This week we have for you:
Russel Ingram let us know that his Linux+XFS HOWTO can be moved to the unmaintained collection. While SGI's journaling filesystem is of course supported in the 2.6 kernels, Russel hasn't had the opportunity to keep the document nor his own skills up to date. He welcomes anyone who wishes to take over this document but also argues that you now have XFS support by default.
Note that you may also use the ext3 or Reiser journaling filesystems, but tests have pointed out that XFS has better performance for really large files (in the Gigabytes range).
Machtelt Garrels was toying with the idea of ISBN numbers for The LDP documents. People had various opinions about that and Martin WHEELER in a related context said that The LDP should not not be attempting to do what it is. Emma Jane Hogbin contradicted him and listed the incremental progress of The LDP and the work that she had been doing recently.
After a period of silence, we finally have another interview ready for you. We had the opportunity of asking TLDP's "bad guy", Guylhem Aznar, a couple of questions. Guylhem cuts the knots in troublesome issues; that is why people feel very strongly - and sometimes also very differently - about him.
Guylhem is a native French speaker, and the fun thing about such people is that they tell you much more than you want to know. We were flooded with answers to our questions, and although we had to cut here and there, we don't want to keep Guylhem's interesting remarks from you. So this interview is a little bit longer than usual.
Q: What are you doing in the TLDP organization?
A: Apart from taking responsibilities in solving troublesome issues, I'm not really doing very much at the moment.
There was a time when my role was much more active. On the one hand I'm happy: the fact that I don't need to interfere that often anymore is a sure sign that TLDP is running smoothly now. Decisions are taken, applied and respected in an atmosphere of mutual trust. TLDP has matured, the team works. Moreover, being a medical resident, a PhD student, running my own consultancy business and contributing to various free software projects, all simultaneously, I don't have a lot of free time.
But on the other hand there are still problems, such as the license issues we discussed recently, or the co-operation with non-English efforts. There are also problems with old and outdated documents, and I am concerned about the lack of new authors. However few hours I have to myself, I'd like to invest those in order to keep TLDP from coming to harm.
Q: So how did you get involved?
A: It was round about 1997, because of the lack of responsiveness from the French group which I submitted my documents to.
I decided to start writing in English, and submitted my documents to TLDP. There was an excellent ambiance and the project was very interesting. All went well for some time, but just before the turn of the century, a severe problem arose: the LDP leader of those days had to resign, for many reasons, and I did not trust the only candidate for the succession. I feared there were going to be conflicts of interest, so I started a campaign and got "elected".
Q: Can you tell us about your presidency?
A: My first job was to unify the LDP again: we had mailing lists and servers all over the world, and nobody knew who was responsible for what. So I started by putting together a "staff", a team of volunteers that could get TLDP structured. I learned the hard way that it was a good thing to have procedures and to discuss steps with my team before actually taking action.
After a short romance with SGI, we got the relationship with ibiblio going again. They were very understanding and provided a lot of support, which enabled us to centralize resources in North Carolina.
Q: Under your chairmanship, the LDP changed its name to TLDP. Can you explain, for the readers who joined us more recently, why this happened?
A: Well, after I was elected, I didn't want the other candidate to feel left out. So I trusted him to be our webmaster. However, we "lost" linuxdoc.org because this person first purchased the .com and ran a commercial website on it on the back of TLDP, then claimed ownership on the .org because he had paid for the domain renewal. We offered to refund him for any expenses but he refused any agreement which would have transferred back the domain to us. So history proved I was right about not trusting him in the first place. As I said, I learned the hard way. This time I learned that many people are interested in TLDP, but not always for the good of the project.
Anyway, we had to find a new domain name, and TLDP.org was short and free, so I took my responsibilities and moved the project to the domain we are currently using. TLDP is now much more than the former English-only project, and much more efficient, so it was for the best, if you ask me. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask other non-English projects to join us, rather than duplicating efforts. I'm confident that our new evolutions - such as sorted documentation, more automatisation and the "seal of quality" on the documents we put forward will make them want to work altogether.
Q: I read somewhere that you have a cure for ignorance. We're very curious as to what this is?
A: Education, education and education. With a little support to help getting started.
I call it a "cure" because I think ignorance is a disease (I'm into medicine, don't blame me!). It can cause lot of symptoms, such as stupid questions, lack of understanding on how to fix basic problems, bad behavior, and lack of respect for this enormous effort.
I'm quite concerned by the current flow of GNU/Linux users who do not take time to learn the system: the basics such as the shell, the multi-user aspect, and above all, free software ethics. If I had a wish, I'd like a desktop icon on every distribution linking to basic documents, to give new users a clue. You can't blame them now - TLDP is not very visible, and free documentation is not always put forward.
Moreover, some people take free software for granted. They think it's normal and ask authors for all kind of features or support as if it was compulsory for the authors, who are in most cases not even payed. They do code for their personal satisfaction, not to indulge their every wish!
(Note from the reaction: these are the same people who think it is a perfectly normal thing not to pay for commercial software as well and just make illegal copies...)
This ignorance fuels Open Source movements, which only take free software basic principles but forget ethics and the true projects behind free software - society and politics. These words shouldn't be taboos: political and social movements should be mentioned along free software for all sorts of reasons.
I'd like new GNU/Linux users to be aware of the global project behind free software. Free software is about coming back to true capitalism - a real competition, with real business opportunities. The current situation with "intellectual property" and non-free software is an artificial scarcity created to try to sell what can't be sold. Illegal copy is just a symptom of the lack of adaptation between the market and the people. Free software offers an excellent way to solve that problem. DRM, DMCA, Palladium etcetera are all designed to try to make a broken model work. You can see that I can get quite excited about this, but let's face it: we live in the digital age. Live with it or die like the dinosaurs did.
Thank you, Guylhem, for this abundance of ideas!
Find out more about Guylhem at http://externe.net/.
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The LDP Weekly News is compiled and edited by Machtelt Garrels and Y Giridhar Appaji Nag with help from several other people.