Today, the Ubuntu community is observing the first Community Appreciation Day, for good reason. I have never worked with a stronger community. Ever since Ubuntu was born in 2004, I have argued so much with people who disagree with me, in such a civilised manner, having a great time and eventually coming up with consensus. There are other free software communities who create wonderful stuff, but Ubuntu is unique because of its ethos or respect and mutual help. I wish to be able to serve this community for a long time still.

Thank you for these years, and may there be many more.

How time flies when you’re having fun instead of fighting with unfixable annoyances in proprietary software! It has been three years since the birth of gNewSense, the FSF-blessed, all-free Ubuntu derivative.


In his anniversary message to the gnewsense-users mailing list, project co-founder Paul O’Malley had a look at both the past and the future of the distribution. As for the future, the message broke news that the original project leaders Brian Brazil and Paul think they have taken the project as far as they think they can, and plan to hand over maintenance to other community members. Thankfully, interested people have replied, and I’m fairly certain that the future of gNewSense is not in danger. It is well supported by the FSF, who provide hardware and bandwidth among other things, and of course benefits from the solid Ubuntu base distribution on which to build on.

How far, then, has gNewSense come? According to Paul’s message, one of the main goals of the project was to prove two points:

  1. That Free software works
  2. That non-free software “can bite you hard and should not be run”

It is fairly safe to say that on both accounts gNewSense has been a success. They provide a complete, free operating system with all the proprietary binary blobs removed and only ships with free software, and the system works well on lots and lots of hardware, thereby demonstrating the first point. Furthermore, their insistence on the second point has made a noticeable difference by making people focus on delivering more crucial pieces of software as free.

Most notably, they were instrumental in liberating GLX, which brings accelerated 3D graphics to free software. They also helped in building 100% free Linux kernels: their builder script pushed the linux-libre project forward and removing binary blobs from Linux is now easy.

Linux distributions and their users benefit from gNewSense even if they do not run it on their own machines. gNewsense is kind of a litmus test of software freedom. It is easy to check the level of freedom of your Ubuntu system for example: how much of your installed software is free enough for gNewSense? How free is your favorite distribution? For the tasks you do on your computer, do you actually need any non-free software, or would you even be able to do all the same things on gNewSense?

Hats off to the success of gNewSense so far, and may the project thrive until obsoleted by a future software status of complete freedom!

Traditionally, people in Finland (and elsewhere too, I would imagine) are pretty stupid about handling of fireworks on New Year’s Eve. It’s not ignorance – we all know how that blowing up stuff in your face can be hazardous to your health. We simply have enormous amounts of faith in nothing bad ever possibly happening to our own person. We set a new record of sadness this year by having two (documented) accidents even the day before :-(

We on #ubuntu-offtopic naturally care a lot about the welfare of our youth. After all, they are the future of #ubuntu-offtopic! Our discussion started off on a rather pessimistic tone, but perhaps there is something to learn here.

Then again, perhaps not. Who knows! Featuring topyli and zaapiel:


Have fun but keep your head, kids. Happy New Year!

I have just upgraded “the standard” to WordPress 2.7.  I like the new admin interface, and was particularly delighted with the possibility of rearranging everything on the admin pages, for example to better fit on my EeePC’s tiny screen.

As always, the upgrade was very smooth and uneventful, but I’m still very excited to learn that manual upgrades are no longer necessary in the future. Therefore, I hereby announce that this years Friends of topyli virtual smiley medal goes to the WP hackers!


Congratulations to us all! Debian turns 15 today. How time flies when you’re having fun!

I like how EFYtimes puts it:

Despite being only 15 years old, Debian is more mature than any of the other operating systems.

I’ll drink to that! It’s a huge exaggeration but still, we have a solid foudation to build our freedom on.

Today, the Finnish Linux User Group[1] announced their yearly Linux Contributor Award. The Winner: Ubuntu Suomi! Translating from the press release (Finnish PDF).

The volunteer community has taken care of translations, arranged events around the country, promoted Linux and Free Software to legislators and, above all, provided user support through its web forum.

Decorated Timo

Mirv accepting the prize.
(Photo from the ubuntu-fi blog)

Congratulations to our most excellent LoCo Team!

Two honorable mentions were awarded as well. One was given to the wiki. The choice further emphasizes the great importance that peer-provided support and documentation has for the success of Free Software. The other one went to Monty Widenius, the founder of MySQL. Yes, in case you didn’t know, he is yet another Finn helping build the tools for our road to software freedom. :) Altough MySQL is not directly related to LInux, as one of the pillars of the near-ubiqutuous LAMP stack, its success is very much tied to that of Linux.

Cheers to these Honored Ones too!

[1] Yes, there is only one. It is a small country :)

Ten years have passed today since Miguel announced the GNOME project:

We want to develop a free and complete set of user friendly
applications and desktop tools, similar to CDE and KDE but based
entirely on free software.

We’ve come a long way since then!
Congratulations, Freedom lovers. Rock on!

GNOME birthday cake via Marco.