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Interview: Ask Jon "maddog" Hall What You Will 26

It's been over 13 years since we did a Q&A with Linux International executive director Jon "maddog" Hall. For decades, maddog has been one of the highest profile advocates for free and open source software. He is currently working on Project Caua which aims "to promote more efficient computing following the thin client/server model, while creating up to two million privately-funded high-tech jobs in Brazil, and another three to four million in the rest of Latin America." He's also gearing up for FISL in Brazil, and helping to plan the FOSS part of Campus Party Europe in London. maddog has graciously agreed to find time to answer some of your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
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Interview: Ask Jon "maddog" Hall What You Will

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  • First I praise you for your work and your goals -- they are refreshing compared to "please investors." But one of the keywords in your goals statements [] for Project Cauã is "capitalistic" as in "do all of this in a capitalistic, sustainable way, with little or no money coming from government." This mildly confuses me. I don't see FOSS as directly contradictory to capitalism but your goal of "triple or quadruple the number of FOSS developers in the world" seems, well, a little more public domain orien
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The magic of the free market is that people don't depend on magic.

      Capitalism is merely the observation that capital (i.e., any resource, such as money, land, labor, etc.) is best allocated not by, say, the bureaucrat who takes it by decree, but rather by the one who—through voluntary interaction—gained control of that capital in the first place. That's it.

      More capitalism means more freedom, and more freedom means faster progress in all aspects of life; under a free market, each person realizes h

  • by Ian.Waring ( 591380 ) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @01:04PM (#44102259) Homepage
    Who had the "Live Free or Die - UNIX" license plate at Spit Brook first; you or Armando Stettner? And do you still have it??
  • by Statecraftsman ( 718862 ) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @01:26PM (#44102527) Homepage
    As someone who takes a pragmatic view of software freedom and considers business interests carefully, what are your thoughts on decentralized virtual currencies such as Bitcoin as they relate to individual freedom as well overall economic efficiency?
  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @02:20PM (#44103201)
    What, you will?
  • by Adekyn ( 2114976 ) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @02:59PM (#44103709)
    The “Apple iPhone” and “Amazon Kindle” were release in 2007; and the “Apple iPad” followed just 3 years later in 2010. Now, in mid-2013, the combination of smart-phone and tablet devices has eroded the PC market - with projections of tablets out-selling PCs by 1 million units by 2017. It has been estimated that, presently ~70% of these devices are running Linux (in the form of Android) and soon, Canonical will be throwing Ubuntu/Unity into the mix. Ironically, while it is fantastic that Linux has been to be proliferated to the masses, it has done so in a very “closed” way. These are marketed as self-contained content devices _not computers_. To develop software for these products, one (for the most part) cannot simply code with tools/languages of your choosing – you have to conform to the tools and delivery methodologies of the device manufactures. How do you see this trend of abandoning Personal Computers for SoC-based content devices affecting the future development of Linux or, for that matter, the future of programming in general?
  • by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @04:46PM (#44105063)
    Traditionally, the 3 ways of making money off FOSS have been
    1. a> Selling hardware
    2. b> Selling support services
    3. c> Donations

    Long term, do you see any other ways in which one can make money on FOSS?

  • by countach ( 534280 ) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @06:45PM (#44106673)

    My question is, why do we need thin client/server in an age where a decent computer surely costs about the same as some kind of thin client anyway? I can see benefits in a specialized scenario where you need access to vast computing power, but for every day people in an apartment complex, web browsing and reading mail, why is it necessary, and doesn't it in fact add a lot of complexity for little gain, not to mention administrative problems and a central point of failure. People are using $30 Android tablets for their computing needs without that complexity.

  • My question to Jon "Maddog" Hall: What would you ask Jon "Maddog" Hall and what would the answer be?
  • I'm wondering what you think looking back at the whole Alpha scene.
    -were there any major failings?
    -what were the nicest features?
    -while the hardware is now abandoned and slow, do you think it could have remained competetive?
    -favorite stor(y|ies) related to Alpha or Linux/Alpha?
    -are you still interested in Alpha, or have you moved on?

  • My question.
    Part1 history.While developing many other facets of Gnu/Linux so that most small companies can use FOSS to totally run their business, the lack of a FOSS UK or EU VAT system of bookkeeping keeps small start ups 'locked' into Windows as there they have the relevant accounting/bookkeeping programs. (GnuCash is OK for personal accounts, useless for UK or EU VAT systems).
    Part 2 Question: Is any effort being made to solve this as it would allow start ups to be independent of Windows.
    There a

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal