Welcome to The Linux Week In Review #29
As 2011 draws to a close, GNU/Linux and Free Software are as prosperous and in-demand as they have ever been. 2011 was a magnificent year, one in which a lot of deals were made, a lot of profits were reaped, and a lot of freedom was spread. Free Software looks to have an even more rewarding year in 2012. Open source invaded the monetary system with the rise, fall, and subsequent rise of Bitcoins. Mozilla showed the tremendous resilience and innovation of its Firefox web browser, even as Google continued to revolutionize web browsing with Chrome. LibreOffice stole OpenOffice.org’s thunder, but the Apache Foundation vowed that you have neither seen nor heard the last of the first Free Software office suite. 2011 was full of open source intrigue and suspense. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in Red Hat, Canonical, Suse, the Linux Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, and Google’s headquarters in 2011. Then, we might know what marvels are being developed for 2012. Instead, we will have to wait….patiently.
As we bid 2011 adieu, let us do so by reflecting on our blessings, and on the exciting stories below:
- Mozilla Strikes Gold: $300 Million Renewal From Google
- What I Recently Learned: Howto Export a LibreOffice Chart as an Image
- The Resurgence of Open Source Currency: Bitcoin Rises Again
Mozilla Strikes Gold: $300 Million Renewal From Google
It was recently announced that Mozilla and Google renewed their deal: Mozilla will receive revenue from Google for delivering Firefox users to Google’s search engine. The deal means that Google will pay the Mozilla Foundation $300 million per year for the next three years.
I knew all along that Google was going to renew the search deal with Mozilla. First of all, a lot of Firefox users use Google as their primary search engine, so the search deal IS a lucrative source of search engine “customers” for Google. Secondly, I believe that Google really believes its “Do No Evil” mantra. To crush Firefox, which would have been the net result had Google chosen not to renew the deal, is simply not in Google’s character. Thirdly, ensuring that Firefox is ALWAYS a noteworthy competitor to Google’s Chrome web browser is a very good way to hold anti-trust regulators at bay. These vultures are looking for signs of blood emanating from Google’s wounds. Make no mistake about it, Google is under attack, and has been for a very long time. The company’s dominance in search, and the popularity of Android, have brought a lot of jealous enemies out of the wood work. However, Google’s favor-ability and likability among the general public have neutered its cowering adversaries. Google’s wisdom in renewing the search deal has yielded this result: again, Google has played its opponents the same way that Mr. Charles Parker masterfully played his Grafton alto saxophone.
From the previous paragraph, it should be clear that I have a very strong bias. I love Google. I love Firefox. In fact, you will have to pry Google’s search engine and the Firefox web browser from my cold dead hands. What scares some is that there are a lot more people like me. We are fiercely loyal to our favorite products, and no amount of bad press that THEY purchase is going to change our minds. They can buy all of the Ad Words ads that they want: it will have no effect. They can buy banner ads on all of the tech websites on the Internet: this is money wasted. At the end of the day, most people are loyal to a company or a product based on what they DO, not on what they SAY. Google and Mozilla, I have heard what you’ve DONE loud and clear, and it’s music to my ears!
What I Recently Learned: Howto Export a LibreOffice Chart as an Image
The Free Software and Open Source communities both have a very desirable trait, they like to share their knowledge when they learn how to do things. As I was writing the next segment, the segment about the resurgence of Bitcoins, I ran into a very interesting dilemma. I created a chart in LibreOffice Calc using the 2011 Bitcoin price data. I was trying to copy and paste the chart into the GIMP as an image so that I could attach it to this article. Each time I copied the chart and pasted it, I just got a blank white window in the GIMP. What was I doing wrong? The answer turned out to be very simple. In the spirit of Free Software, I will pass the answer along.
It turns out that you need an intermediate program to make this work: LibreOffice Draw. Here is what you need to do:
- Create your chart using LibreOffice Calc. Leave the spreadsheet open.
- Click on the chart to make sure that it is selected.
- Right-click on the chart and select “Copy”.
- Open LibreOffice Draw.
- Go to “Edit” in Draw’s top menu, and select “Paste Special”.
- Select “GDI metafile” and hit “OK”. Your chart is now in Draw. Now, you’ll have to export it as an image:
- Go to “File” > “Export”.
- Give the file a name, change the “Save as type” to .png, and save the file in your desired location.
- Open the new file in the GIMP, and edit as necessary.
That’s it! It could not be any easier.
The Resurgence of Open Source Currency: Bitcoin Rises Again
Many pundits a few months ago predicted Bitcoin’s demise. They praised the noble vision of the technology, but cautioned that the inventor’s naivety didn’t change the fact that such a radical departure from norms could never succeed. I’m sure that similar things were said about GNU/Linux a decade ago. A decade before that, some pundits called the idea of a personal computer in every home foolish. Meaningful change ALWAYS requires a visionary who turns a deaf ears to the naysayers. The naysayers will be long forgotten by the time a truly innovative idea runs its course. Can you name ONE person who called Grace Hopper crazy when she pioneered the UNIVAC computer back in 1949? I cannot. Yet her name lives in infamy.
I NEVER listen anymore when someone tells me that something is impossible. The truth is this: NONE of us know what is possible or impossible. We can only make educated guesses. History proves that these guesses are often wrong. I feel that this will be the case with Bitcoins. I believe that the resurgence of Bitcoin is due mainly to its openness. When it is damaged, it heals itself rapidly because everyone has access to its fundamental structure and source code. Bitcoin’s reputation took a beating when several prominent Bitcoin websites were attacked and hacked. However, Free Software communities do not rest when they are attacked, they come back stronger. THIS is why the price of Bitcoins are rising again: the Open Source community has expertly learned to feign weakness as it licks its wounds. It lies in secret: working out its muscles diligently, only to return and slay its dozing opponent when they least expect it. By the time that the opponent realizes the tactic, it is already too late: the opponent is signing conciliatory deals while recovering from its unforeseen thrashing. Yoda was really on to something when he walked around pretending to need a cane!
Pictures speak a thousand words. Instead of me trying to craft eloquent words to explain what has happened to Bitcoins, I will let you see the raw data for yourself, and make your own inferences. (The data in the LibreOffice Calc spreadsheet below is courtesy of Bitcoincharts.com).
Notice the rise in the green line starting in late 2011. I scaled the weighted price by multiplying it times 1 million, and I made it a green line so that you could see the trends more easily. The graph ends around December 25th, 2011. As you can see, Bitcoins hit a huge peak around July 2011. Where will Bitcoins go from here? I’ll let you decide for yourself.
What a wonderful and blessed year! I am sorry to see 2011 go, But I am looking forward to 2012 with great anticipation and expectation. Free Software will only get better from here. I predict that Free Software and Open Source will have an even bigger impact in 2012 than they did in 2011. I am also proud to announce that I started two Wikipedia articles in December of 2011. One is an article for a non-profit organization that makes open source software for higher education. The organization is called Jasig. The other Wikipedia articles that I started is for the term “oggcast”. An oggcast is a podcast distributed ONLY in free formats such as Ogg Vorbis, Speex, and FLAC.
You can view and/or edit the articles here:
Have a happy New Year celebration, and a wonderful 2012!!
 Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. (12/22/11) Firefox hits the jackpot with almost billion dollar google deal. http://www.zdnet.com/blog/networking/firefox-hits-the-jackpot-with-almost-billion-dollar-google-deal/1780?tag=mantle_skin;content
 Lee, Timothy. (12/21/11) Bitcoin’s comeback: should western union be afraid? http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/12/bitcoins-comeback/