FLOSS Weekly 716 Transcript

Please be advised this transcript is AI-generated and may not be word for word. Time codes refer to the approximate times in the ad-supported version of the show.

Doc Searls (00:00:00):
This is FLOSS Weekly. I'm Doc Searls, and this week Simon Phipps and I talked to an old friend of us, both Christine Hall, and she is fabulous. She has been around at least as long as I have, knows all this kind of stuff. Is hardcore Phos person. She runs Phos Phosphor, which is her her own publications. She's a radio veteran. She has lots of original thinking about all kinds of topics that are enduring and matter. And that is coming up next

Speaker 2 (00:00:35):
Podcasts you love, From people you trust. This is TWiT.

Doc Searls (00:00:42):
This is FLOSS Weekly, episode 716, recorded Wednesday, January 25th, 2023, desperately Seeking Software Freedom. This episode of FLOSS Weekly is brought to you by Bit Warden. Get the password manager that offers a robust and cost effective solution that can drastically increase your chances of staying safe online. Get started with a free trial of a teams or enterprise plan, or gets started for free across all devices as an individual user at fit Hello again, everybody, everywhere. This is FLOSS Weekly. I am Doc Searls, and this week I am joined by Simon Phipps himself, who is appearing on screen. So I know he is a different setting. You, you've, you've moved around. You

Simon Phipps (00:01:34):
Look, it's, the weather has got cold here, and I've moved into the house and I'm in my home office as opposed to my home office in the office, in the garden at the home.

Doc Searls (00:01:45):
Oh, wow. Well, it's but you're still wear, you're wearing a hoodie and <laugh>. Yeah,

Simon Phipps (00:01:51):
<Laugh>. I, it's still, I, I just, there is still ice on the water, on all the water features in the garden, and oh wow. It's nighttime here. So it's, it's getting colder again.

Doc Searls (00:02:03):
Well, I'm, I'm still at Santa Barbara for just this week. Next week I'll be back in Indiana where it's snowing heavily right now. Here it is. Course

Simon Phipps (00:02:10):
Paradise. I think it's snowing in Santa Barbara. It's

Doc Searls (00:02:12):
Paradise. Yeah. Not in No, it never does here in Santa Barbara. It's beautiful here. Of course, it's required. It's by law. Yeah. So, so our our guest today is, is Christine Hall. You, you know her better than I know her. I think I've read her for years.

Simon Phipps (00:02:27):
We've, we have run into each other a number of times. There was a, a time when Christine was on the OSI board and Christine Oh wow. Has been writing about open source for forever. I'm from before it was called 11 Source, like you have <laugh>. So and it's listened to the conversation before the show. It sounded like you had a lot of contact points in common. So we have a lot of contact. We're gonna have to stop you talking about your history in North Carolina. I think <laugh>,

Doc Searls (00:02:55):
I don't know. It, it's too interesting. It's I, I, I love what Dorothy Parker said about older men. She said, I prefer younger men because their stories are shorter. So <laugh>, that's <laugh>. So I'm afraid I have nothing but long stories. Well, I, I wanna get into this show here. So Christine Hall, like me in some ways grew up in radio back when she says when FM was mono <laugh> and, and worked a lot there until 94, including a stint with a bonafide unlicensed pirate station in Toronto. We may or may not talk about that. Sold her first article to the LA Free Press in 1972. That's about when I got started in journalism. Helped started a sci-fi magazine in Toronto in 75. Started writing about tech around oh two in this millennium. And wrote a computer column under the name Ms. Lynn Winos or something like that, and started writing about Foss full-time, calling it fos. About 2009 when she started, FOSS Force describes herself as still a hippie, and she still does an hour long radio show, sixties music every Sunday at six on the barrel of So, welcome, Christine. There you are. I see. Well, hello. You're in your layer.

Christine Hall (00:04:19):
Happy to be here.

Doc Searls (00:04:20):
So there's so much we can, we can, we can touch on. So we, we talked before the show an awful lot about radio. Do you do you miss over the air broadcasting at all? Or is is, is broadcasting on the net fine? Cause everybody gets it on their phones.

Christine Hall (00:04:39):
Broadcasting over the net would be fine if we were doing it the same way that we did over the air radio where it was you were actually sitting at a console doing the show live. Station I'm working for, were uploading MP3 files, you know, for the music that's on the playlist, and then I gotta record the drops. And, you know, what, what should, what would take a, a three minute a a a a one minute talk break on live radio is, is a one minute talk break. It takes me an hour to put one of these together because every time I stumble a little bit, I want to go fix that. Yeah. so some

Doc Searls (00:05:17):
Assembly, a

Christine Hall (00:05:18):
Whole lot more time consuming. Yeah. So

Doc Searls (00:05:20):
I'm curious about the, the, the copyright aspect of it is I mean, so how, how do you handle that? Is it, is it, do you just report it in to sound exchange and you keep a, you know, whoever is running barrel of rock just keeps a record of that.

Christine Hall (00:05:35):
It could be very complicated for the barrel of rock. It's easy because they're using the service of 365 live Right. To do it. And then they take care of all that for you. So so, cause I've always, I've looked at it when I've thought about starting an internet radio station and going, that looks like an incredible amount of complicated bookkeeping that I wouldn't want to have to do. Yeah. I remember what it was like in the old days on radio when every year, B m I would require radio stations to, to keep a list of every song they played for a week,

Doc Searls (00:06:11):
BMI and Scap and mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and csac too. And yeah, that was just for composers and decomposers. And, and now it's now because the, the record industry saw that radio was in the nineties. They knew it, they knew radio was gonna go online, and that was a chance to get money for artists. And so artists were paid micro pennies for every time something gets played for somebody. And, and they're still complaining, you know, with, with some cause. So so okay. You, so let me start with a really broad question, which is, okay, you've been at Linux for a long time. What, what are the changes you've seen over the years and where do you think it is now? And we can drill down

Christine Hall (00:06:56):
As far as desktop pull goes. It's, it's, it's never been better, you know, from a technical viewpoint. You know, I, you, you, I think we both probably remember the days when you, in, when you installed Linux and then you were gonna spend a day or two figuring around fooling around with the configurations, trying to get it to work, you know, with the sound work will, will the camera work on my laptop? And, and, and it was just a, it was, it was kind of a nightmare. And you had to have a, a pretty good degree of technical proficiency to get your distribution to work. Nowadays, you just you, you, you install Linux and it works out of the box. You very rarely have any problems whatsoever that you know, if you, if, if you're using the right distro.

 So, so from from that angle, it's never been better. What I do miss about the early days of Linux is it was kind of a online comradery between Lennox users, it a whole community. And we were talking about the technical issues and we were talking about, it was almost like being a hippie back in the sixties when you were all trying to figure out ways to fix the, the problems with American culture. And those days are gone, you know? And, and that's kind of sad in some ways, I think.

Simon Phipps (00:08:23):
So are you actively switching from distro to distro? Because I mean, I, I hear there's Pop Linux as the flavor of the week at the moment. Are you trying all these out or have you, have you settled in your ways and your, you are using your, your highly, highly developed copy of Mint or whatever it was That was good? Historically,

Christine Hall (00:08:43):
Y you know, I've, I've looked at, I've looked at Pop and I've played around with Pop quite a bit because I own two computers from System 76. And it's a good distro, but I've never been a distro hopper. I've always been a, I started out on Mandrake. I used Mandrake until it became obvious that Man Driva was going to bite the dust. And then I switched to P C L O S, and then for a while I used BDI and then settled in on Lennox Vent about, oh, I don't know, 10 years ago maybe. And have been using Lennox Min ever since. So I'm not a distro hopper, but the only time I look at another distro is if I have to do a review.

Simon Phipps (00:09:27):
Right. See, I've pretty much given that up now, cuz I, I found that I was trying to use those distros and they would inevitably corrode on me and I'd find myself having to go and fix something at the command line. And then you, you, you then get all the tech bro stuff where everyone looks down at you for not knowing the right command to give. And, and I finally got tired of all of that and switch to Chromos in all about a decade ago. And now I do all of my UX in a container on top of my Chrome desktop. Are you tempted to, to, to switch into that maintained world? Or, or are you gonna be there on your self maintained mint

Christine Hall (00:10:08):
Story? Well, I've never had that experience. I've never had that experience Simon in recent years. I, I install a long-term support lts version of Mint on on my machine. And I use it until until it dates out and then just upgrade to the, to the next US thing. And I don't think I've, I don't think I've had to go into the command line to fix something on Lennox in at least 10 or 15 years.

Simon Phipps (00:10:39):
Yeah. So t has been commenting on the the, the chat over here. He wonders if you've ever heard of Pulse audio, he, he thinks that that is unlikely to work from the box. Do you never struggle with drivers

Christine Hall (00:10:54):
<Laugh>? You know, my problem with Pulse doesn't have to do with drivers. It, it just sometimes is hard to figure out how to do things in Pulse and things quit working unexpectedly or, or, or fail to work the way they're supposed to. And, and, but all my configuration and problems getting it back up comes from using the, the g I.

Doc Searls (00:11:22):
So, so I'm wondering if

Christine Hall (00:11:24):
We're talking on a link, we're talking on a Links machine right now. It's system 76. 

Doc Searls (00:11:32):
So, so you're getting, part of it is you've, you've, you get from System 76, what's, say Apple users get from Apple for keeping you up to date and that kind of thing. Would that be a fair statement?

Christine Hall (00:11:44):
Well, yes and no. I'm not using Pop Os I played when, when, when I bought the machine, I played around with Pop for, for about a week. I liked it quite a bit, but it wasn't the, no, the Nome desktop is a good Nome desktop isn't, isn't the workflow that I'm used to. So I, I finally just installed Mint on it. I like all my machines to have the, the same operating system, the same file system structure and so forth. So when I move from machine to machine, I don't have to remember where things are on this machine. But yes as far as drivers go system 76 does a great job. About once or twice a year, I'll find that there's been a driver update, and all I have to do is go like Windows, just go press a button, say update the drivers, and they update the drivers. So, so, so that's kind of, that's kind of cool and neat. Something I never expected to see on Linnux and that's coming. I'm using a different operating system than was originally start installed the machine, and they're still doing it for me.

Doc Searls (00:12:56):
That's great. So I'm, I'm looking at the wonderful list of questions you gave for us as many different rat holes we can go down <laugh>. One is that, and, and in many ways when Linux won, and I think it, I mean obviously it won in away with with Android on, on cell phones, which, you know, we carry everywhere. But also in the enterprise has become it, you know, it, it has become defaulted as the base of the stack that most enterprises are running. Most clouds are running as well. And, and one of the things you said is an assertion I read or like, which is how winning the enterprise wasn't necessarily good for open source. You wanna tell us a little bit about that?

Christine Hall (00:13:41):
Well, that gets back to the, the thing I was talking about earlier, when the, when when there was a really tight almost social type of community around, around Linux, and it was all focused on the user and it was all focused, like in, you know, there was a lot of talk, of course we didn't see the cloud coming, but there was a lot of talk about, you know, putting power in the hands of the, of the user, the power of the computer and so forth. And then with the enterprise, the home user, the, the, the people that just want to do, do things on their computer. We're a very small part now of the open source community where at one time, you know, we dominated the open source community enterprise. Open source is almost entirely dis different animal than the open source community that I cut my teeth on.

 Because really enterprise open source big corporations who had common interest in, in the software that they were producing found that, well, we can all get together and can work together on this open source using a you know, a progressive license work together and then take what we've done and each go our own separate way by adding our secret soft to making it proprietary. And that's really not the spirit of open source. You know, going back to the days of the free software movement and so forth, you didn't, you didn't use open source as a way to come up with a proprietary product. So, and I understand, I I don't have a problem with that, but it's kind of taken away from the open source experience from from, from the way we envisioned it back in the, the nineties and the early two thousands.

Doc Searls (00:15:36):
It occurs to me that the f in, in Foss or floss might not just mean free, but also might mean full stack in the sense that, you know, what we had in the old days, you were talking about, and, and, and you still do, and Simon still does me to a lesser extent, I hate to say, but where it's free all the way up where, where you have choice going up all the way up, that, that the point you're making about how there's, you know, the big companies now form Cabals that, that work on common problems is serve sort of deeper in this stack or in containers or whatever but then put their own proprietary stuff on top. I, I hadn't meant to bring up the Linux found, you actually mentioned the Linnux Foundation <laugh> there, you said, what does the Linnux Foundation do Absolutely nothing for desktop Linnux. And that may be an example of that. Is that, is that the case? I mean, there's sort of two things to critique there. One is, or at least visit one is the Linux Foundation itself is a place where, where companies get together to work on common problems, then put their proprietary stuff on top of it. And the other is whatever it did for desktop Linux, which in some ways we still don't have in a popular way.

Christine Hall (00:16:49):
Well, you know, when the, when the Linux Foundation came along, I had had great hope that that was, that they would be channeling some money into helping helping all the different distros. There's some common problems with the, with the fit and polish on Lennox Distros that are kind of not big enough for people to pay attention to, but they end up being a pain in the key stir for the user when they're, when they're trying to, to figure out how to get things to work and, and to make the Linux experience a little smoother. It's pretty smooth now. And, and I don't think that's such a big problem anymore, but they've done absolutely nothing for, for, for Desktop Linux. In fact, they, they act like they have disdain for, for dust stock clinics. And, and I'm very supportive of the Linux Foundation and the good work that they do in other areas. You know, the open S s f cloud Native Computing Foundation, all, all, all this is good. But it just seems to me that they could, they could have a desktop Linux project, you know, channel a few dollars into that, have some people working on, on fixing some of the common problems that the developers at, you know, Debbie and their Arch or any of the other distros are all having in common to, to make it easier for people to come out with, with, with, with good distros that just work.

I can't hear you.

Doc Searls (00:18:22):
I, I had hit mute because I was coughing there. We are no longer doing that. <Laugh>. I know Simon has a question and I want to get to that. But first, I have to let people know that this episode of FLOSS Weekly is brought to you a bit warden. Bit Warden is the only open source cross platform password manager that can be used at home, at work, or on the go and is trusted by millions, even our very own, Steve Gibson has switched over with Bit Warden. You can securely store credentials across personal and Business Worlds January 22nd to 28th, as this week is data privacy week leading up to Data Privacy Day bit. Warden would like to remind everyone that your data is valuable. And so as your privacy, all of your data in your Bit Warden Vault is end to end encrypted, and not just your passwords.

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Simon Phipps (00:21:38):
Take it away. Go. So I, I'm sitting here in Reary listening to your your, your soft tones there, doc. So Christine it strikes me that the free software community, and to a certain degree, the open source community crystallized around a concern about a common enemy in the two thousands because Microsoft and today Microsoft is certainly wearing the clothes of a friend. They may even contain a friend. So who is the enemy that we crystallize around now, or are we faced with having to find some other form of unity as a community?

Christine Hall (00:22:22):
Yeah, that, that's a really good question. Microsoft I still hate them, but I hate them for different reasons. And I used to they have become good open source citizens in a way, as you say at, at the same token there, there, there's still a big corporation and, and, and my past, since the 1960s tells me to distrust any, he this corporate corporation, I think really, and, and what we're missing the boat on and what the open source community the common enemy that we have, if, if you, if we want to put it in that sort of terminology, is the cloud and the rise of software as a service. The fact that you're no longer installing the software on your machine, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It, it's very convenient, it's easy to use but it also takes the p the power of computing away. And there's really no way to address that with, with, with licensing. And I think that that's something that it would be nice if we had a long discussion online about how we, how we deal with this and how we make software as a service in web apps and so forth, more freer and more accessible to, to the, you know, the average everyday user.

Simon Phipps (00:23:51):
Right? So now I'm spending a lot of time in Europe working to get the European Commission to do something about keeping the liberty of software present while dealing with the domination of corporations and, and the European Commission's view is that interoperability is the key and that the, the problem is when proprietary vendors build walls. Do you think that that cloud software as a service is always a problem? Or do you think that software as a service that's implementing standards is actually the way for software freedom to go?

Christine Hall (00:24:32):
Well, that's, that, that is probably true because, you know, we're not gonna make software as a service go away. And there are a lot of advantages to it. Interoperability, <laugh> is, is going to be key. And, and I think, I think we're there in many ways. You know, I have no problem. Yeah, I use Libra office and I have no problem connecting to people and, and, and getting documents to them when they're using Microsoft Word or Google Docs. So, so, so, yeah. And you know, the short answer to that would be yes. That, that, that, that is, it is very important. Of course it does take ownership away from, from people though, and that I'm not, and I'm not really comfortable with that.

Simon Phipps (00:25:19):
Mm-Hmm. So the other dimension to this, of course, you just mentioned LI office the big push from the proprietary vendors has been to get people using cloud services like Google Suite or Office 365. Do you think that our position in the world of open source and free software is secure by only having desktop office suites? Or are we going to have to do something about getting open source office suites out into the cloud?

Christine Hall (00:25:49):
I'm, I'm, I, I think we, we do need open source office suites at the, in the, in the cloud. You know, it, you see SaaS services that advertise that, you know, that, that, that, that our entire services open source, that doesn't really matter because, you know, we're not using the, the actual application itself. We're, we're, we're using the functions of the application. But it would be nice if we had some sort of ownership of that, you know, some sort of communal ownership of some of the the, the cloud-based services that we use. Now we've got next cloud, and, you know, that's, that, that's the way that I always figured that I'm going to go, is just set up my own software as a service on my own server. But not everybody can do that. Not everybody wants to do that. So.

Simon Phipps (00:26:47):
Hmm. Do you think that the approach next Cloud is taking, is the right one for us in free software? Because that's very much about installing a centralized server and for people that you know, I, I do actually have a, a, a rack, a server act in the room below me, and I am running a load of servers that have self-hosted cloud software on them. Not everyone is in the position that you and I are in of, of being able to do that. And it strikes me that next cloud simply creates smaller corporations to own your data. Do you think that next scaled is the right direction? Do you think there's a, maybe a federated way we should be going instead of a centralized way?

Christine Hall (00:27:26):
You know, that's a really good question, and, and I actually I haven't even thought of that before. And I should, especially since I'm really active on Mastodon right now, and, and I'm seeing the benefits of the, of, of a federated approach and, and next cloud could be part of that because, you know, they've got the software, if they can just come up with ways to make next Cloud easier for, for you to have your server where you are, I and I have my server where I am, and then we open that up and, and, and allow other people to use it, that that's a great idea and something to think about and put together. It's gonna take some thought.

Simon Phipps (00:28:11):
Yeah. Yeah. So I, I also know that you, you, you are into photo editors and I, I, you know, I've been watching the debacle over Adobe telling people that they can't use colors anymore. <Laugh>, I assume everything's gonna be black and white or something. You know, in the world of free software, we have an offensively named graphic suite with a G at the beginning, and we have we have criter you know, I, i, is, is that a good place to be? Or, or are we in a real mess when it comes to graphics editors in free software?

Christine Hall (00:28:49):
I'm the wrong person to ask on that. Yes, I am a little bit into, in, into to the photo editing software, but just in so far as I needed to to run websites, you know, so I do a lot of scaling and, and, and a lot of work like that. So, so I'm, I I'm not the user who's got my camera out and coming home and doing a lot of photography work. So, so I'm the wrong person to ask there, you know, I, I am kind of surprised that Adobe goes online and makes, makes Photoshop and online service only, but evidently Lennox users still can't use it. And I find that kind of like mind boggling.

Doc Searls (00:29:35):
Yeah, I I, I may be the right wrong person to ask on that one because I'm a photographer, and what keeps me stuck on a non-free operating system for that is Photoshop and Lightroom, which are good. And I didn't know about this new Adobe controversy, and that's what they needed yet another one. But I've found, I've found the offensively named one that begins with a G, yet <laugh>, I didn't think you couldn't say that. <Laugh>. that's the one wrong, but I mean, but I've, I, I've, it's, it ain't the same. But to tell the truth, my, my workflow, there's nothing left that works for my workflow. The last good workflow software came from was one that Microsoft bought in 2 20 12 or something, and abandoned in 2013. So but, but I have, I, I wanna get back to the something that you brought up Simon, about Europe wanting to care about interoperability, because what that tends to do, and I've seen this in Europe a lot, I see it with the gdpr, there's this assumption that only large companies have agency, and the best thing you could do is, on the one hand, help them all to get along.

And on the other hand encourage them not to screw users. And there's nothing in European law that I've seen, or California law for that matter. That's where I am now with the C C P A that starts with, Hey, we need empowered users here. You know, we need people who can, you know, who who can have, who can act globally and can not only have choice of, of what to do, but can have, have control over the companies that, that serve them in some ways. And, and I'm, I'm a little bit worried about that. I dunno if that, does that touch any nerves with you, Christine, or are you watching that less closely in Simon is

Christine Hall (00:31:22):
Not as closely as Simon is, but yes. And, and that's, you know, trying to put a, you know, trying to put a finger on what's wrong with the whole web app, web centric approach to computing is difficult because, you know, on, on the surface, it all seems fine. It's easy to use. You don't necessarily have to pay for it. I can sit here and interoperate with it without having to spend any money with, with, with Microsoft, myself, since I don't need it to do the actual creation with but, but yes, it means we're all, we're all tied to these monopolies because each of these you know, mic Office 365 becomes a monopoly. Google Docs becomes a monopoly. You go to work for a corporation right away, you have to know how to use Microsoft products. You have to know how to use Google Docs. And yes, that's, that, that, that's, to me, that seems like a big problem. And it starts at the college level as well. When I was working for the North Carolina School of the Arts students had to have Microsoft on their machines. They had to have office 365 you know, the, the, our government mandating that you use the software for a specific company. It's, it's, it's, it's just, and I don't know what the solution is. 

Doc Searls (00:32:50):
Well, you, you, you used this term reification. I think that was right. And if you're, it seems to be something that sad that happened with the browser is that all of those are essentially proprietary at this point. Google's Apples, Microsoft's and even some of the lesser ones of Mozilla does his best to try and keep Firefox free. But if the problem is, if you, if you wanna operate as a free individual using a browser and say you don't wanna accept cookies from anybody, for example other than fully trusted sites, maybe just so it remembers you when you come back, you've just stripped away most of the, or a lot of the, of what makes the web work now, which is all the proprietary stuff on the server side for all of the websites in the world. And I've been fighting that one for a long time, mostly just fighting ad tech. And it's, I wouldn't call it a losing battle, but we certainly haven't gained much much ground. The, the assumption is you're, we, we are in a futile system, and you, you just choose your lords and you move from one, you know, you moved from the Microsoft world to the Adobe world, to the Apple world, to the, to the Google world and the Amazon world, and you're living in those places with separate benefits from all of them, but none that go across any of them.

Christine Hall (00:34:13):
Well, you know, the problem, the problem is is that people are good with that, and that's, you, you know, a lot of that's, you know, we, we, we, we've already accepted so much of that, that we're not gonna make it go away no matter how much we change people's minds. But we, we can find better ways to live with that, better ways going forward, a direction to move that in. But none of that's gonna happen as long as the average person as long as there's only two or 3% of us that see a problem with that that's not gonna go away. You know, I'm, I'm not sure there's anything that can be done about it, any of that.

Doc Searls (00:34:59):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

Simon Phipps (00:35:02):
So now to, to, to switch channels somewhat. When it comes to software licensing, what is your favorite open source license?

Christine Hall (00:35:13):
The gpl? Yeah, <laugh>, hands down. You know, it's it, it, it, it keeps, it, it keeps the software 100% in the hands of the people, and 100% in the hands of the user. I don't have any problem with the permissive licenses. And, and I understand entirely why the enterprise, you know prefers them because it allows 'em to take their, their software proprietary. But the gpl l to, to me, that's, you know, that, that, that's, that's ground zero for open source.

Simon Phipps (00:35:58):
And which, which gpl, cause there's, there's, there's GPL two and GPL three in common usage. Is the GPL three working, or do you think we should all be sticking with GPL B two?

Christine Hall (00:36:14):
I, I'm, I'm really agnostic on that one because I don't have to deal with licensing issues very much from where I sit. The A G P L to me seems to be kind of a, I, I don't see the sense of it, and I don't see where it does really does anything. But the, the GPL two or three, to me, I'm, I'm fine with it. I'm fine with Lin with Linus making his decision to keep Linux on the GPL two. I'm, I'm fine with the GPL three. I'm, I'm, I'm pretty agnostic there, but, but again I don't have much skin in that game, so I don't think about it very much.

Simon Phipps (00:36:57):
Mm. So I don't have,

Christine Hall (00:37:00):
I don't have to think about it very much.

Simon Phipps (00:37:03):
So how do you feel about all these calls for using licensing as a tool to stop the war or to stop climate change or to deal with gender equality? Do you think licensing is the right tool for doing those things with, is is there No,

Christine Hall (00:37:17):
Absolutely, absolutely not. I mean, I, I, I, I love these people and I think their hearts in the, in the right place, and I absolutely understand what they're trying to do. But, but, but that just actually takes software away from people. It complicates things so, so damn much because a lot of these ethical software licenses have ethical boundaries that are really very subjective and, and, and there's nothing objective about 'em. So you can think you're in compliance and suddenly you're not in compliance. I, I think the software freedoms that you absolutely can't put restrictions on how you use the software. You can't put restrictions on who uses the software. If fascists want to use my software, then they can do so. Because once you go down that rat hole, you, you, you, you, you're starting to do a whole lot of social engineering, which you, which is not something I think can work no matter how good your intentions are,

Simon Phipps (00:38:24):
But isn't, isn't social engineering what the GPL was all about? I mean, so the GPL was specifically designed to try and drive more software into becoming free software. Surely social engineering with licensing is, is the whole point of the G p, isn't it?

Christine Hall (00:38:42):
Yeah. Well, well, well, yes, but, but, but, but it's introducing choice. It's not taking away choice. Yes, you can use the software, yes. If you make changes, you need, you, you the price you pay for using the software is to make it available to everybody. But there, there's, there's nothing there that says, but if you're not the kind of person we, like, you can't use the software. There's nothing there that says if you're doing something that, that, that, that, that needs to go away, like war you can't use the software there. There's, yeah, I, I just think it's a rat hole. I, I think that there's no way that you're ever going to to, to, to make that work. And I think that by licensing software in such a matter, you're making it completely unusable to a lot of people that are good people that aren't doing anything unethical because they, they, they all of a sudden can't share their software with others. And, and once again, with, with the G P L being my license of choice none of none of these are compatible with the GPL whatsoever because they, they, they put restrictions on, on the software that is not compatible with the gpl.

Simon Phipps (00:40:08):
Right. how easy is it for you to work that out? What's compatible with the gpl? Because I mean a lot of people say that they struggle to understand the gpl. H how easy is it to work out what's gonna compat with the gpl? Can you sort that out or do we have to rely on having a, a guru interpreter for what's compatible with the gpl?

Christine Hall (00:40:28):
Generally, I have no problem with it. Generally, if if, if I'm reading about some new software license I can generally right away say, oh, this might be a problem, or No, this isn't a problem. Every now and again, I find myself having to go to open source initiatives, <laugh> website, and looking and seeing what the geniuses at OSI have had to say about that. But, but, but generally I find that real easy. It, it, it's really not a lot of problem there. The GPL is pretty straightforward.

Doc Searls (00:41:06):
It, you know, it, it's straightforward, but it is really, really hard to sell. I have an old friend now, sadly deceased, who was at a, one of the big companies and very friendly to open source in general. And every time we talked about the gpl, he would say, I don't know what to do with that. And and, and a similar way it see it, you know, it, the way it's phrased, this sounds restrictive, and there's an additional problem, which is we have tried hard to get certain name brand free software advocates here who would be, I would think good at explaining the G P L who won't come on because our own production chain does not entirely free as it were. You know, we, we, you know, we make practical choices that then includes some stuff that they don't approve of. And so some of the advocates, we just can't get on here. So that's, that's an add an additional issue that, that makes it harder to sell. And I dunno if you have any additional thoughts about that, except it, I mean, is there a, is there a one liner you use by any chance to get the GPL across to people?

Christine Hall (00:42:17):
Well, y you know, I, I don't, I don't find myself pushing the gpl, you know, my, my personal preference is that that's my favorite license. I, I'm a big believer in, in the fact that there is a need for, for proprietary software. Even I, you know, I, I'm, I'm, I'm, I don't judge people from using proprietary software. I maybe have, well, I know I have some proprietary software on my machines. I also, I also think that maybe Linux would've done better if it had been under a B S D type license or the M I t or Apache. But because distro owners would've been able, at the time when people were selling shrink wrap software, to have come up with a killer distro and start selling it without knowing that people could also download it for free. So, so I, I'm not, I'm not a hardcore free software. If it's not free, you shouldn't use it sort of person. I think that's, I think that's a, to me, that's an entirely wrong approach to take, even though I do understand people that do take that position. And, but, but being a fanatic is being a fanatic, I think <laugh>, no matter which side of the fence you're on,

Doc Searls (00:43:37):
We we need our fanatics though. You know? That's

Christine Hall (00:43:41):
Absolutely. Yeah,

Doc Searls (00:43:42):
Yeah, yeah. 

Christine Hall (00:43:45):
In the hippie days, you know, we, we, we, we, we, we had a lot of fanatical far left wing groups that God save 'em, they were great, they were helpful, but they were really difficult to be around <laugh> because every word you said was either wrong for this reason or wrong for that reason. And you were, you were being counter revolutionary. And but, but they served a useful person purpose because they kept us aware. And I think that's true of the people that just absolutely insist that everything has to be free. 

Simon Phipps (00:44:26):
So how, how do you feel about putting the, the new slash in front of xx? Is that something you do?

Christine Hall (00:44:34):
No. <laugh> I use, I, when I first started Force Force, my rule on that was on sort of like the aps rules on, on a lot of things is first use I would use Canoe Lennox, and then after that it would just be Lennox. I think that, that, that, that's it, that for those who believed in that, that lo that war has been lost. It's over with. I ran a survey and it got a lot of open source people that are fairly well known in the community on false force, maybe 10 years ago. And to a t everybody said that, you know, that, forget it. I got a I got an email from Richard Stallman about 10 years ago and said, could you please do the right thing and call it Gnu Lennox? And I said, well, what I will? And I answered him and I says, well, what I will do is I'll call it Gnu Lennox on the first mention, but after that, just drop it to Lennox. And I never heard back from him. So

Doc Searls (00:45:48):
<Laugh>, I, I, I have a, a, a brief and funny story about that. I did, Richard is a total totally controlling on the matter of language. And in a box over there in my office, I have lots of cassette tapes of interviews I did over the years. And one was on a cruise boat we had with for Lin Journal, where he was one of the, one of the guest speakers on the boat. And in the million, not only he did insist I had to say Canoe Linnux if I was talking Linnux, but <laugh>, he stopped, he stopped me from speaking a number of times, and one of 'em was he said, you can't say that word. I said, what word? I can't tell. I can't say the word. So you don't say that word. And it took like five minutes of, of 20 questions before I got to, the word was Adobe. You did not want me to mention the name Adobe, cuz it's the name of a proprietary company. It's <laugh>. So, so I know I I, oh boy, there's so many different directions we can go in 10 minutes or so. We've got left. But I know I know Simon has a question about Red Hat, so Bill for it, Simon.

Simon Phipps (00:47:00):
Well, I was listening to both of you talking about North Carolina and, and you know, your, your affinity for it and for the longest time the, the, the Linux or Guo Linux universe was very happy with Red Hat. So Christine, is Red Hat still a good company now that it belongs to I B M or do you think it's it's lost its Crown as a a, an open

Doc Searls (00:47:28):
Source company?

Christine Hall (00:47:30):
I see signs of that. I, I, I really don't know. I do know that the, the, the people at Red Hat when you talk to them want to claim that they're completely 100% independent. But I think a lot of that's a business decision made by, by Red Hat and IBM because of the fact that Red Hat continues to do business with a lot of people that are direct competitors to ibm. So they need to to, to give that appearance of a total firewall. I really don't see how Red Hat can't be changed by IBM's ownership because any corporation is has to kowtow to its shareholders. And I b m is the only shareholder. And, and yes, I do believe there's something of a firewall or probably a pretty good firewall between I B M and Red Hat. But I think that that firewall is breached in very subtle ways that Red Hat maybe can make any decision that they want to, but they have to think before they make the decision is how is that gonna affect the shareholder? So, so, so yeah, I, I don't think Red Hats is independent. This Red Hat would have us believe when I say that, however on social media, red Hatters jump all over me and accuse me of being anti Red Hat, which I'm not. I really love Red Hat. I like Red Hat, and, and I hope they maintain the amount of independence that they have.

Doc Searls (00:49:07):
I have a good couple of small thoughts about this. First with, with Red Hat Bob Young, who started Red Hat was the very first editor in chief for Lennox Journal. And he was not a Linux guy. And once he found out about Linux, he left Lennox Journal and started Red Hat <laugh>. This is in 1994, so billions of dollars later, you know, but he's no longer in charge. He hasn't been in charge for a long time. And and and interesting thing to me as you're talking about this, is that is that IBM itself has been a big advocate of open source. Yes. And and, and again, it's a gigantic company you know, and, and many, many tentacles and many onto, many tentacles. Not all the suction cup know what the other suction cups are doing.

So it's it's a little hard to characterize the whole thing that way, but I do think it comes, it, it gets back a bit to your point about the big ization of, of any op of, of, of Linux and operating systems and also verticalization. I, I'm I mean Apple ran on on Intel chips and now it runs on their own. So they're verticalized all the way down to the metal at this point, whereas they weren't before. And it's not to say that there aren't proprietary things going on inside, inside Intel's chip as well, who knows, you know, you don't. That's one of those areas where it is totally proprietary and opaque in many cases. So, you know, so I'm wonder, yeah. Anyway, I I just wonder if, if you have any thoughts about that and sort of broad characterizations of companies.

Christine Hall (00:50:50):
Yeah, for, for about five years, I, I wrote for it Pro Today and data Center knowledge within pharma. And, and that was really good for me because it, it, it, yeah, it was covering enterprise open source a whole lot. And I was talking to people with IBM and Oracle and so forth. And I will say that whenever I've dealt with IBM and interviews and so forth I, I went in thinking these people, you know, are at the enemies of open source, especially Oracle. But whenever I've talked to their open source people, they really get it. And they're very committed to open source and especially ibm. IBM really surprised me how much they appreciate and how much they take open source seriously. And I, I should have got it because of the fact that, you know, they spent a billion dollars helping Linux back in the year 2000, 2001 and or so.

But and the guys at Oracle, you know, a company that I completely think are, are, are about is a, is a jerk company. But the, the open source people that work there are wonderful, they're, they, that they really get open source, they're committed to it. Oracle solution appears from where I sit to separate their open source workers from everybody else. You know, the, the, the, their open source people are in a silo, so they don't really have to deal with all the other madness at Oracle. Where with I B m, I feel that their commitment to open source is rather systemic. I don't wanna make it sound like I'm a rah, bm person cuz I'm, I'm not. And I, but my problems with BM have more to do with how they've failed to keep up with the times.

Simon Phipps (00:52:46):
So again, just switch channels a little bit here. I've been watching conference happenings in the world of free and open source for quite a long time. It all used to all be about oscon and then Riley took that out and shot it in the field. And so now in North America, which conference is the one that free software people should go to, do you think? Is it all things open or is it scale or is it Libra Planet? Where, where is the heart of the community in North America now?

Christine Hall (00:53:17):
I've never been to Libra. Well, I haven't been to scale either. I love all things Open. I, I haven't been, unfortunately, I haven't been to some of the big community events such as scale such as the, what is it, Northwest Linux up in the, the, the and, and Siegel. I like open, I like, I like the idea of scale. I like the people that I work with, and I keep trying to get that on my agenda. But something always keeps me from going. The, the, the, the, the two open source conferences that, that I've been to that I like a lot are, are All Things Open, which is definitely not a community event. You know, so it's a privately run private privately run conference with Todd Lewis. He, he's just a, a great human being, a great person. He does a really good job and he doesn't really kowtow a lot to to his corporate sponsor, so that's good. The other one is a Lennox a, a Lennox Foundation conference that, that I've been to that that I was really surprised at how much I liked it. And that was a Cuban and Cloud native con. But

Doc Searls (00:54:39):

Christine Hall (00:54:39):

Doc Searls (00:54:40):
Yeah, that, that is interesting. I've been to a, a, a couple of of Lennox Foundation e Events oh, can't trying remember the name of one of 'em, but it's actually where I found out that the the, oh God, you mentioned it earlier because of an l Anyway, it's four letters because of an L <laugh>, but it's actually about distributed cloud and, and to some degree the telco business which I didn't expect going in cloud native. The cloud native computing foundation. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> did not have an L in it. What do you know? Anyway I I wanted to mention it. I mean, sometimes you stumble across things and I went to Dwe camp this summer this last summer for, and it's run by the internet archive, basically kind of. It's and it's more of a gathering, but although that was not, it was sort of nominally about the web, it was really thick with open source people of all kinds.

And and so you sort of, at some events you have a lot of right thinking and right working people coming out of the woodwork. And, and it had a lot of a, even though it was a formally organized thing people tended to cluster on topics and work on those. The, the internet identity workshop, which I started <laugh> with a couple of other people in 2005 is another one of those. There's no, is not a, it has no it has no no panels, no keynotes, no, the sponsors only buy food and projectors and stuff like that. And it's kind of like everybody comes and does a barn raising for a few days and goes home again. But open source is kind of huge with that. So it's sort of like, it's a, it's an ethic that's, infected is probably the wrong word, but is highly present in there. <Laugh> in the back channel. Simon is asking a question. I'll let him ask you. <Laugh>

Simon Phipps (00:56:43):
I dunno if I dare really. So Christine, you know, there, what I looked at what you wrote to us about your bio. You say you're still a hippie and yet you like a Linux Foundation event. So what are your credentials for still being a hippie <laugh>

Christine Hall (00:56:58):
<Laugh> what, what are my credentials for being a

Simon Phipps (00:57:02):
Yeah, I'm a do do you do Burning Man? Do, do you go to, do you go to music camps in California? What do you know, what are your

Christine Hall (00:57:10):
Hip well for still being a hippie? Well, I, I still live my life as a hippie and I still wake up every morning wondering if the scene has come back and if I can go down to St. Mark's place in the eighth corner of St. Mark's place in Second Avenue and, and hang out with with, with, with, with the street people. And my, my past, I was part of Rochdale College, which you probably haven't heard of, which was the largest urban commune. It wasn't really a commune, but it, it functioned as one on the Planet 18th story building that the, the government built with a really weird mortgage arrangement. It was built as a non, as as off campus student housing for the University of Toronto, and it was gonna be owned by the students. This was a way of placating people, cuz it was gonna be a free school and that we would be in charge of the free school.

And we ended up owning the building because of a glitch they put in the, in the mortgage. And when they had trouble filling it with students, they opened it up to pu the hippies from York pool. And we moved in and we realized that we could, we could take ownership of the building. And we voted out the government appointed board of directors and established ourself as owners. And we kept that building for five years until they finally kicked us out. We made marijuana's legal now, so I can say this. We, we, we, we, we made <laugh>, we made pot dealing legal in the building and put security of the front doors to keep the cops out. And since and since they had to have a warrant of specific to a, to a specific apartment in the building, they their hands were tied. So they got rid of us, but it took 'em five years to do it. You know, they figured out how to drive us broke <laugh>.

Doc Searls (00:59:18):
Wow. So, I mean, I barely remember that, but I do. When, as soon as you started talking about it, the 18th story building, I thought that must be Toronto. I think I remember something about that. Uhhuh. Is it, and I, I'm an old hippie too. They don't have the hair anymore, but the and I was thinking, you know, ask an inveterate hippie a story, I I to tell a story and have lots of them. So, and I'll spare your mind because we are out of time. We always close to the, with a, a couple of quick questions. What, what is, what is your favorite text editor and scripting language?

Christine Hall (00:59:52):
My favorite <laugh>, my favorite text editor is bluefish. Because I, I mainly write H H T M L and it makes it, it makes that very easy. I'm not a coder. I've, I, I've never written a word of code in my life other than H D M L and Boris Moris. I, I, I hear, oh

Doc Searls (01:00:13):
My God, we're the same. That's my joke. The only code I know is Moris <laugh>.

Christine Hall (01:00:22):
And and what was the other question?

Doc Searls (01:00:24):
Oh, and, and, and scripting language. So if

Christine Hall (01:00:27):
You're well, once again, I'm not a coder, so there

Doc Searls (01:00:29):
You go. <Laugh>. Well, that's <laugh>. Well, that's fantastic. So tha thanks much.

Christine Hall (01:00:35):
We'll get around to that one day.

Doc Searls (01:00:37):
We'll, we'll get around. So thanks so much for being on the show and and for grounding us in many different ways on all subjects, Linux and Foss. And and I have to look quickly. I didn't do it for about next week. Well, I'll get around to that. I can, I can, I can see now. Okay. anyway, we'll have to have you back, Christine, this has been a great show.

Christine Hall (01:01:00):
Thank you for having me. I, I appreciate, it's been fun.

Doc Searls (01:01:05):
So, Simon, this is one of the ones where we had more questions written down ahead of time, I think, than we ever have

Simon Phipps (01:01:10):
<Laugh>. And, you know, there's a few more to go. And we could have dived down any of those rat holes if we had wanted to. So we would've gone down so deep you would've needed a ferret to get us out again. So lots of fun. I, I do think that they, you do need to have a, a a reminisce con with Christine <laugh> and oh my gosh you know, we, we can all just sit around and, and cook marshmallows and watch while you talk about all of your exploits avoiding getting arrested for, for smoking pot. Yeah. So you, fascinating stuff. And Christine's still out there writing for various publications, which is where I normally run into her these days. So lots of fun. Yes,

Doc Searls (01:01:57):
It's great that she's doing that. And you know, I've been, and I, I'm glad that I'll, I'll Hail Linux Journal. The, the original people in charge of it are no longer there, but somebody's keeping it alive and nothing is 4 0 4 yet, which is, so hats off to them for that. But, you know, writing, you know, this is how I write about Lennox now. I go to, I do this show, which is like, it's you know, but there's a lot of, there are a lot of rat holes. We could have gone down, we could have gone much farther with radio than, than we did. I'm amazed that she actually, before the show, said that she had a connection with W M D E in Greensboro, which is like one of the smallest, least known radio stations ever. <Laugh>. That was, that was on the,

Simon Phipps (01:02:41):
I'm amazed you said you wanted to buy it. I mean,

Doc Searls (01:02:44):
Oh, I did. Cuz I knew what was gonna happen. I knew FM was gonna explode. This is in the late sixties, and and it was probably available for a bargain, but in, in those days, they didn't have two pennies. So pu pushed together. And on top of that, I was eligible for the draft and I didn't want to go to the Vietnam War, and I was gonna head to Canada if that happened, if I got drafted. So that was my, and I had a child already. <Laugh> mean there was, there was so much going on. So that was, that was, that was that. But there's a lot to, there's an awful lot of great stuff going on back there, by the way, there's is completely off topic, but there's a, a great podcast I, I'd I'd called 500, the history of rock music and 500 songs, A guy named Andrew Hickey from, I think it's from Manchester. Absolutely fabulous podcast. So a little promo for that. Anyway the, give us a plug and then I'll then we'll get outta here.

Simon Phipps (01:03:39):
<Laugh>. Well, it's the time of year when the next big thing is sem, which is the free and open source developers European meeting. And that is happening not this coming weekend, but the first weekend in February in Brussels. And around it, there are many other events that have accumulated. So I will be there if you would like to share a coffee with me do please get in touch and I, I will try and run into you over that weekend. I'll actually be in Brussels a little bit for a little bit after. So if you would like to discuss anything substantive maybe meeting outside the weekend would be a better choice. And hopefully I'll survive that and be back. I think I'm next on the schedule in mid-February to come and talk with somebody. Yeah. how about you, doc? What you up

Doc Searls (01:04:29):
To? You have a question mark next to you in on February 22nd, so we'll take that off. <Laugh> the question mark.

Simon Phipps (01:04:37):
So what you, you are about to leave Santa Barbara and go to go the icy climbs of the central US, I gather?

Doc Searls (01:04:44):
Yes, exactly. The, well, the, the interesting thing about Southern Indiana is it's actually Southern, it's the same parallel as Washington dc which it's getting snow right now, but it's the, they average a few inches of snow every winter and not much. So it, there's no skiing there as far as I know. There shouldn't be <laugh> anyway. It's, it's still kind of the south, in fact, southern Indiana, the natives speak a kind of southern accent. It's kind of a North Kentucky accent. But anyway yeah I'll be back there in our new, in our new old house built in 1899 that we haven't finished setting up yet. So that's gonna be this weekend. Anyhow, I'll see you there next week. Thank you Simon. Thank you Christine. And oh, wait a minute. I, I have to say what's going on next week. We'll be on a little earlier next week for those watching live at 8:30 AM Pacific. And the guest will be Ellan Rabinovich from scale. We brought up scale and he will, he'll be on this show. He's an interesting guy. It's an interesting topic, and we'll see you then.

Jonathan Bennett (01:05:49):
Hey, we should talk Lennox. It's the operating system that runs the internet, but your game console, cell phones, and maybe even the machine on your desk, and you already knew all that. What you may not know is that TWiT now is a show dedicated to it, the Untitled Lennox Show. Whether you're a Lennox Pro, a burgeoning ciit man, or just curious what the big deal is, you should join us on the Club TWiT Discord every Saturday afternoon for news analysis and tips to sharpen your Lennox skills. And then make sure you subscribe to the Club twit exclusive Untitled Linux Show. Wait, you're not a Club TWiT member yet. We'll go to twit and sign up. Hope to see you there.


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