Tag Archives: Free

20 Years Since Historic Brum Linux Event – ‘A storm was coming’

I did some Twitts this morning:

“The history of Welsh computing: Inmos Transputer, Raspberry Pi. Impressive. Whatever happened to parallel processing? Or druids.”

[At this point I did a search to check ‘David’ Cox’s name]

“…I should probably have included Alan Cox’s networking contributions to the Linux kernel in between those two.”

“… At least I now know what happened to one of the druids.”

[When I saw the photos, I thought 2 of them were a young RMS ]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman

“…I just learned that Alan Cox comes from Solihull, which may explain why I think I may have met him at the first Linux event I ever attended”

[Then I went back to the search Window and found this link]

“…Isn’t The Internet good? This meeting!

[18th September but which year: 1994? The first release of the kernel was in 1991.
but http://www.ukuug.org/about/timeline/
shows MH was UKUUG newsletter editor 1995-6.
Are we approaching 20 years of Linux (or “Free Unix”) in Birmingham?]

Yes kids, my first Linux distro was Lasermoon. Martin Houston also wrote the magazine article that caused me to be there and started SBLUG.”

Martin Houston was a quiet, unassuming programmer who first brought Linux to the attention of me and probably most people in Britain who’d heard of it at that point. He was “the organiser” of the UK  Unix User Group Linux SIG. I think his article in one of the DEC magazines was the first time I ever saw Linux mentioned and this meeting was at DEC’s office on the Birmingham Business Park, organised by the DEC User Society, DECUS. They must have been trying hard to recover from Ken Olsen’s accusation that Unix was snake-oil.

Soon afterwards I went to either the first or second meeting of the South Birmingham Linux User Group. Martin understood the importance of marketing and coined the phrase “A storm is coming and its name is Linux” which,  for 1994, showed remarkable foresight and possibly misplaced confidence. A few years later, Martin turned up at Powergen in Coventry as a contract programmer but I haven’t heard of him since.

I remember that the demonstration of a Linux installation on a “portable PC” (they didn’t fit on your lap then) by Colin Bruce of Coventry University involved floppy disks and a parallel port network adapter (‘portables’ didn’t have a network connection. What do you think this was, The Future?)

And yes, Linux kernel hacker Alan Cox, famously Welsh, is a Brummie.

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Free Anarchy

The following has been conceived and written in one day. Please consider it a first draft of the manifesto for the ‘share nicely’ revolution – the happy face of Anarchy in the UK.

As predicted, The Revolution will not be televised. It will however be streamed, live-Tweeted and blogged as the State has only just noticed that it has temporarily lost control.You’d think they’d be putting some sort of controls in place to limit our freedom of speech… They’ve what? Oh dear… Well that sucks!

This week, four ‘comfortably off men’, representatives of the UK’s State: Prince Charles, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband (in my unresearched order of richness) met to encourage young people who face a possible future of economic failure and joblessness to ‘get on their bikes’ and work for nothing for the good of The Big Society (them.)
Obviously only the richer kids will have a bike; just as only middle-class parents will afford to buy their kids a job by funding them during a couple of years of internship or an industrial apprenticeship. I imagine the ceremony to have been accompanied by a backgound chorus of press representatives singing “get a job, you scroungers” to the older siblings and parents of many of the assembled kids.

I fear I spot a discontinuity and I have to agree that Occupy, Anonymous and Russel Brand have a point. Something is seriously Wrong and I don’t know what to do about it either.

The problem for those calling for revolution is that we’re already having one and whilst I applaud our leaders for embracing the uprising of ‘Free culture’, I’m not sure that this is quite what most of us involved at the grass-roots level of the movement had in mind and we’re not ready to be ploughed-over just yet.

A brief review of my superficial knowledge of European history today has informed me that revolutions come in two flavours:

  • technological: (which travel in pairs, the second a direct consequence of the first) with ‘the management’ in charge but showing no real forethought, then
  • political: the violent response from an angry population that has somehow been displaced by the ruling class’s selfish exploitation of the change. This revolution results in major changes to political and economic systems.

The Industrial Revolution led to the start of modern Capitalism. The next one seems likely to end it.

Political revolutions are often inspired by intellectuals but implemented by people who enjoy the sound of boot on brain. Let’s hope we can avoid that outcome this time around, before Occupy take their Internet back. We’ve had the ‘Computer/Information Revolution’ and we’re in the ‘Information Sharing Revolution’ but They aren’t sharing nicely and I’m angry. A lot of people are. Science recently showed that 2-year old humans are pre-programmed to expect their fair share of the rewards from anything they worked for. Fairness is in our DNA. We’d like it now please.

Our economic revolution seems likely to remove capital as the primary constraint on human endeavour, as agricultural and industrial labour were devalued by earlier revolutions. The Information Sharing Revolution may make ownership of the means of production and mythical Intellectual Property rights and management of the state out of the hands of leaders. Hive society needs a shared purpose not management. ‘Leaders’, please collect your tools of control, today’s meetings are cancelled. We’ll govern ourselves thanks.