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30th July is SysAdminDay

Today, 30th July 2010, the last Friday of July, is the 11th Annual System Administrator Appreciation Day. It’s a day to appreciate those people who look after your IT from unpacking new hardware from its box, installing operating systems, configuring said systems, fitting cabling and other infrastructure and basically dealing with anything afterwards that crops up once a system becomes a production system – even if problems crop up at inconvenient times like weekends.

Sysadmins can easily be recognised: they’re the worried looking ones typing frantically on a KVM, although an alternative pose might be adopted – that backside sticking out from under your desk* normally belongs to your sysadmin.

Sysadmins realised they were special years ago and someone kindly wrote them their own manpage, which is reproduced below to make readers realise their unstinting efforts:

SYSADMIN (1) USER COMMANDS SYSADMIN (1)

NAME

sysadmin – responsible for everything imaginable that may or may not have to do with the system you’re using. Contraction of “system” and “administrator”

SYNOPSIS

sysadmin [-ab] [-cd] [-ef] etc……

DESCRIPTION

sysadmin takes care of everything, is generally harangued, must be supplied with coffee, chocolate, and alcohol in order to function properly, cannot be exposed to direct sun- light, and must not be allowed to have a life.

sysadmin is not intended as a user interface routine; other programs provide user-friendly front ends; sysadmin is used by everyone who can track him [her] down.

With no flags, sysadmin reads its standard input up to an EOF, or a line which sysadmin wishes to parse, and then proceeds to ignore it entirely and read news all day. When invoked with the -w option, sysadmin reads standard input and responds according to terms of job description.

OPTIONS

-bofh Go into Bastard Operator From Hell mode. This option causes sysadmin to use tools stored in the /usr/lib/bofh directory to parse the standard input and route user tasks appropriately.

-cd causes sysadmin to become caffeine-deprived, resulting in system slowdowns.

-b causes the sysadmin to function normally while augmenting the standard input with beer(5). Can be used with the -t option as well, depending upon which version of sysadmin you are running.

-t causes the sysadmin to smoke tobacco, which can result in significant performance improvement, provided you are running the correct version of sysadmin.

-Cfile Specify an alternate configuration file (sysadmin.cf is the standard).

-dX set debuggin value to X.

-fFullname Set the full name of the sysadmin.

-Bf Create the sysadmin.cf configuration freeze file.

-lname Sets the name of the “luser” person (that is, originator of a given request). -l can only be used by “trusted” users (who are listed in sysadmin.cf).

NOTES

The -t option should not be used with a version of sysadmin which is not capable of parsing tobacco input. Though the functionality of this command may seem similar to the -b option, it should not be confused with that or the related -c option.

Here at Bristol Wireless, we shall be particularly pleased to welcome callers to the lab if they come bearing tokens of appreciation (also known as gifts) for SysAdminDay. Our suggestions include:

  • Artisan cider, fine wines and single malt whiskies;
  • Tickets for luxury holidays far away from Bristol, preferably somewhere warm and with good connectivity;
  • Gourmet foods, although pizza will be acceptable (as long as still hot!).
  • The return of our missing kit (e.g. cable testers, decent Krone tools, etc. 😉 )

More information: SysAdminDay website.

* – The adoption of this posture is normally accompanied by expletives.

Dell and Ubuntu: one step forwards, two steps backwards?

It’s hard to make out what’s going on with Ubuntu in the increasingly schizophrenic world of Dell, one of the UK’s/world’s largest suppliers of computer equipment.

Ubuntu logo

In June the specialist IT press was buzzing with an announcement from Dell that ‘Ubuntu is more secure than Windows’, whilst praising its ‘fast boot-up speeds and elegant design’, as well as giving a list of 10 reasons why users should consider Canonical’s offering over Redmond’s finest. A typical article of the period is this one from PC Pro.

However, over the weekend and this morning news has been circulating that Dell is now dropping sales of machines with pre-installed Ubuntu from its UK website, although the company told computer magazine PC Pro that it would continue to sell Ubuntu laptops and desktops via the telephone. The Telegraph has a surprisingly good piece on the story.

The reason given by Dell for dropping the machines from its website was that it had decided to remove the Ubuntu machines from its online sales channel because the platform was better suited to advanced users and computing enthusiasts.

Your scribe gets the impression that Dell doesn’t know its customers very well. After all, wouldn’t those ‘advanced users and computing enthusiasts’ be exactly the sort of people who would be more likely to purchase their kit online?

I think we should be told…

Quiz time!

Who said the following?

Many authorities have found themselves unintentionally locked into proprietary technology for decades. After a certain point that original choice becomes so ingrained that alternatives risk being systematically ignored, no matter what the potential benefits. This is a waste of public money that most public bodies can no longer afford.

Strong words, eh?

For those who work on the visual level too, here’s a picture clue for you…
nk

Answers in the comments below please.

LUGBZ & FSFE to Province of Bolzano – please don’t waste money on Microsoft

This morning my inbox was graced by an email from the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) headed: ‘Bolzano, please don’t waste your money’.

FSFE logoIt refers to a recent decision by the Province of Bolzano-Bozen in northern Italy to spend € 2.2 mn. over the next 3 years renewing existing Microsoft proprietary licences and buying new ones. All this was done without a public invitation to tender, excluding the possibility for competing suppliers of similar software to submit bids of their own.

Indeed the FSFE has published an open letter to Provincial Government member Roberto Bizzo, who is responsible for Employment and Equal Opportunities, Innovation and Research, Finance and the Budget, Co-operative Development and IT, which we reproduce in full below.

Dear Minister Roberto Bizzo,

on 25 May 2010 the regional government authority of Bolzano decided to spend 2.2 million EUR over the next three years to renew software licenses from Microsoft Ireland, and to buy additional licenses. All this was done without a public call for tender, making it impossible for competing suppliers of similar software to make offers of their own.

We ask you to rethink this decision. It will influence your strategic position over a much longer time frame than the three years for which the licenses will last.

The European Commission’s vice president Neelie Kroes said on June 13 2010 in Brussels:

“Many authorities have found themselves unintentionally locked into proprietary technology for decades. After a certain point that original choice becomes so ingrained that alternatives risk being systematically ignored, no matter what the potential benefits. This is a waste of public money that most public bodies can no longer afford.”

With your decision to buy Microsoft Sharepoint and Microsoft Office communication server software without evaluating Free Software alternatives you will increase your organisation’s dependence on Microsoft. You will take your IT systems further down the one-way street of proprietary formats and proprietary software, locking in your organisation’s own data along with that of the citizens of Bolzano.

You are also running the risk of accusations about the improper handling about procurement processes. The protracted lawsuit against the Swiss Federal Administration, which is still ongoing, provides an example of the possible legal consequences.

The decisions you are making today will have an impact for the years to come. Breaking out of the lock-in will only become more expensive over time, as you risk turning more of your valuable data into digital toxic waste.

Rather than throw good money after bad, we ask you to step back from your deal with Microsoft, and issue a public call for tender open to all suppliers. When making a choice about the future solution for your organisation, we urge you to consider the strategic freedom which Free Software, Open Standards and open file formats provide, rather than deepening your dependence on a single vendor.

You might also wish to investigate the opportunities that such a strategy would provide for local businesses in the province of Bolzano-Bozen, which has successfully turned itself into a Free Software hub.

In the interest of the citizens of Bolzano-Bozen, we urge you to accept the offer of a dialogue extended to you by local Free Software experts at the GNU/Linux User Group Bolzano (LUGBZ) and the Free Software Foundation Europe. We stand ready to advise you on your strategic options in software procurement, and discuss the opportunities afforded by Free Software and Open Standards.

Sincerely,
Karsten Gerloff

President,
Free Software Foundation Europe
http://fsfe.org

Don’t you just hate the smell of vendor lock-in?

Ubuntu in Business – more tickets released

Ubuntu logoLast week we write about the Ubuntu in Business event being organised in London on 13th July (news passim). News has just arrived via the blog of Canonical, the commercial sponsors of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, that more places have just been made available for the event.

According to Canonical’s blog post:

Canonical and the Ubuntu UK community have joined forces to host and promote an ‘Ubuntu in Business‘ event in Brick Lane, London on July 13th – and it’s proving pretty popular. We sold out out initial allotment of 140 tickets but by rearranging things in the venue we can open up another 70 tickets. Tickets are free, but space is getting tight.

However, as stated previously, Ubuntu community members are asked to bring along colleagues, bosses or others to the event to learn about how Ubuntu can be a great solution for their business.

Read the full Canonical blog post.

Register for Ubuntu in Business here.

Vital reading for legal eagles

I wonder if any lawyers read these posts (probably, given your scurrilous style. Ed. 😉 ). If you fit the description of legal eagle, it’s time to take your hands out of somebody else’s pockets and grab some reading matter as Volume 2, No. 1 (2010) of the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review (IFOSS L. Rev.) is now out.

IFOSS L. Rev. is a collaborative legal publication aimed at increasing knowledge and understanding among lawyers about Free and Open Source Software issues. Topics covered include copyright, licence implementation, licence interpretation, software patents, open standards, case law and statutory changes.

Topics covered in the latest issue include:

  • A BSD licence profile;
  • Copyright in Open Source Software;
  • Case law reports; and
  • Book reviews.

Grab your copy of Volume 2, No. 1 (PDF).

Debian 6.0 Squeeze release due by the end of the year – maybe

Debian logoNews has arrived via Twitter (cheers ciderpunx), on the status of the next release of Debian, the distribution upon which other popular distros such as Simply Mepis and Ubuntu (and loads of others too. Ed.) are based and which is used extensively within Bristol Wireless.

The Debian release team recently announced the latest status of the next Debian release, codenamed Squeeze. The team just finished the work on some major parts, such as completing the changes to run init scripts in parallel, transition to eglibc into testing, GNOME 2.30 and KDE 4.4.3. The next big step is to make Python 2.6 the default python version for Sqeeeze; this could be finished sometime in late August and the release could then be frozen.

The freeze of Squeeze was originally planned for December 2009, meaning it’s already behind schedule. It appears that the Debian project is having difficulties switching to a fixed 2 year release (or freeze) cycle. This time the freeze was deferred due to the high number of critical bugs for a release freeze. Based on past experiences, at least 4 months will be required after the freeze to release the next stable version, meaning this could be available by the end of the year if all goes well, although the release date might be postponed until 2011.

Open source ideology and politics

An intriguing post has appeared on the blog of Sirius Corporation, one of the UK’s foremost open source suppliers.

Entitled ‘Open Source: The Capitalists’ Choice‘, Ben Bell, the author, first deals with the typical assumptions made about open source:

I often hear people referring to Open Source and Free Software advocates jokingly, or not so jokingly, as “communists” or “hippies”. After all, giving away your “intellectual property” for the greater good may be a nice theory in some ideal world, but it rather flies in the face of capitalism, doesn’t it?

Well, let’s see. That sounds fairly standard fare, as is borne out by this post, courtesy of Shelley the Republican (“freedom-hating red-communist Linux freetards”; now I do feel insulted. I’m an anarchist. Ed. 😉 )

Anyway, back to the Sirius blog post…The author then goes on to argue how it is closed, proprietary software that has got it all wrong, likening it to Britain’s bodged, Byzantine railway privatisation.

Proprietary software is akin to the privatisation of the railways. It pays lip-service to the perceived efficiency benefits but if you look at it closely, you realise that the fundamental motivation of competition is absent.

It ends by positing that open source has business right…

Open Source is good capitalism. It encourages competition, it allows small players easy entry to the market and it rewards genuine delivery of value to customers.

…and proprietary software is the real authoritarian, freedom-hating villain.

I recommend reading the original post.

As I finish writing, the post has now also appeared on ComputerworldUK.

Hat tip: Mark Turner

Bristol ICT Training Forum – first steps

keyboardOn 9th June 2010 the inaugural meeting of the Bristol ICT Training Forum was held at Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC). The intention of which was to explore the possibility of starting an ICT training consortium, including collaborative bidding for funding.

The following organisations were represented:

Below are extracts from the meeting notes.

Discussion of actions:

  1. Explore the possibility of obtaining contact details for hard-to-reach people who have computers but may not have the confidence to use them.
  2. Building an online directory. Voscur has an ICT training provider directory and an ICT training directory. SBDN also have a list of training opportunities. These could be linked up.
  3. Helping the Forum to keep in touch: it was suggested that we could set up a Google group.
  4. Using other social media platforms: Voscur has a demand for social networking training and ran a course on RSS feeds. Sean Kenny and Kim to look into Facebook training sessions. Kim is setting up Facebook training courses; she will enquire whether an introductory session can be held for the members of the Forum.
  5. Collaboration: the idea was raised that other training providers could hold sessions at KWMC. KWMC would provide space, outreach and promotion; trainers would provide skills.

Other issues discussed:

  1. Presentation from Brian McCausland, Digital Unite. Get Digital works with people aged 50+ to improve digital literacy and increase levels of inclusion. Specific to sheltered housing schemes. The Get Digital initiative provides funding, training and support for sheltered housing schemes to develop digital literacy schemes. Looking for tutors in the area. Interested to know if other ICT Forums and organisations like KWMC exist in this country.
  2. Sean brought Get Connected to the Forum’s attention: a project that provides grants for nursing homes, promoting digital inclusion and training staff (‘upgrading’).
  3. Future meetings: organisations to take it in turns to host meetings. Makala suggested holding shorter catch-up meetings accompanied by training.
    • Sean – Voscur may be able to host a meeting at the end of July at the Create Centre, with training of how to update your organisation’s website on the Voscur directory and using/setting up a Google group.
    • Kim – A meeting at Stoke Lodge in October, with Facebook training.

ACTIONS

Invitations: Forum members to personally invite their contacts and the absent organisations that have been identified.

Online directories: SBDN to add a link to the Voscur directories and a section of useful training websites to their directory. All members of the Forum welcome to submit content and post replies on the SBDN Courses and Training section.

Consortium: to enquire about the possibility of joining a consortium bid (recycled computers).

Google group: Send the contact details of the Forum members to Sean Kenny to enable him to set up a Google group.

Social networking training: Kim and Sean to enquire about setting up courses in using Facebook for members of the Forum.

E-mail minutes to all attendees of today’s meeting and the previous meeting (as well as those who expressed interest but didn’t come)

CONCLUSION

A morning well spent exploring the collaboration between affiliated organisations providing ICT in the third sector and skills alignment and upgrading between the participants.

Ubuntu in business – London 13th July

Ubuntu logoThe Ubuntu UK community and Canonical, the commercial sponsors of Ubuntu, are currently inviting folk to a very different type of IT event being held on Tuesday, 13th July in London between 1 pm and 5 pm. The venue is The Brickhouse, 152c Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU (map). The nearest Tube station to the venue is Aldgate East.

Over the last 5 years, Ubuntu for the desktop and server has made significant inroads into UK businesses, often driven by the enthusiasm of individuals who use Ubuntu at home and see the benefits it can bring to the workplace. This event gives those advocates an opportunity to introduce their colleagues to Ubuntu, Canonical, partners, community experts and their fellow IT professionals. Attendees will learn how Ubuntu is being deployed in the UK and discover how they can introduce or extend this technology safely and effectively within their organisation.

The programme is as follows:

1pm – Welcome
An introduction to Ubuntu and our community.

1.20 – Ubuntu in action
A couple of case studies of companies using Ubuntu to enhance their business.

Firstly, Chris Puttick, Chief Information Officer of Oxford Archaeology, will explain how one of the largest independent archaeology and heritage practices in Europe, with over 400 specialist staff, took the strategic decision to adopt an open source infrastructure with Ubuntu at the heart of it.

Secondly, Emphony Technologies, a start-up software company producing engineering project management and workflow tools, decided to deploy Ubuntu as its infrastructure; discover how they got on and their plans for the future.

1.40 – Open Mic session
Ubuntu partners and community members (perhaps including you!) tell us how they use Ubuntu in a business context. There will be 5 minute slots with strict timekeeping!

2.15 – Demonstrations, food and networking
Grab some nibbles and see a selection of demonstrations and hands on workshops featuring:

  • Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (Amazon EC2 compatible cloud computing wherever you want it)
  • Landscape Systems Management for Ubuntu
  • Ubuntu Server Edition
  • Social Media for the workplace with WordPress and Ubuntu
  • Quick, cheap, easy, low-risk and fun ways to get started with Ubuntu
  • Ingres, an enterprise class open source database
  • Alfresco document and content management

4.00 – Ubuntu Advantage
The new services from Canonical designed to give your business an edge in its open source strategy.

4.15 – Panel Discussion
A panel with members drawn from Canonical, partners and the community chaired by author and journalist Glyn Moody (yes, the man who wrote Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution. Ed.) and loosely following the theme of “The Benefits and Pitfalls of an Open Source Strategy”.

5.00 – Late
Attendees are encouraged to stay on, sample an Ubuntini at the bar, have a chat and enjoy the Brickhouse’s comedy night.

You can register for the event here.

All are welcome, but if you already count yourself as an Ubuntu user, please drag along a colleague who has yet to see the light! (Perhaps one of our friends from Connecting Bristol would like to come along. Ed.)

The Linux Lord’s Prayer

One of the joys of this year’s BarnCamp (news passim) was the banter around the campfire in the evening (in some instances the campfire conversation was redolent of this recent xkcd cartoon. Ed.). And for the following we’re indebted to Asterisk enthusiast Naomi for reciting round the flames on Saturday evening:

Our father, who art in /sbin,
init is thy name.
Thy PID is 1;
Thy children run
In user space as they do in kernel.
Give us this day our daily RAM
And forgive us our interrupts
As we are nice to those who interrupt us.
Lead us not into uncaught exception
And deliver us from SIGKILL
For thine is the system
And thou art the saviour
For ever and ever – until we upgrade yer!

Young Rewired State 2010

Following on from the release of government data earlier this week (news passim), comes an announcement that Young Rewired State will be taking place again this year from 2nd to 6th August at various places around the country.

Young Rewired State is a hack week for young developers across the UK to go and build visualisations, digital and/or non-digital products using government data, alongside working developers in businesses. Their work will presented to government at the end of the week, either in person, or by live stream.

It’s open to anyone aged 15 to 18 (although certain businesses may not be able to take the under-16s) who can work with data, coding or design.

Full details are on the Rewired State blog, whilst those interested can sign up here (note to the impatient: reading the full blurb first may be worthwhile. Ed. 😀 ).

Hat tip: Glyn Wintle

Update 28/06/10:Rewired State today made the following appeal via its Twitter account:

need some help recruiting 2/3 YP for the Birmingham Yng Rewired State at Talis, young coders 15-18 yrs and free 2-6 August. Help? #yrs2010

Legal uses of P2P – HMG gets into good company

The passing into law of the controversial Digital Economy Act 2010 in the dying days of the last Labour Government focussed plenty of attention on peer-to-peer software (P2P), such as Ktorrent, which is built for the Linux KDE desktop. Indeed as torrent software can be used to download material that infringes copyright (such as illegal copies of music and films), some people may have assumed that P2P packages are used solely for illicit purposes. This assumption is wrong – and there are plenty of legitimate uses for P2P.

KTorrent screenshot

For instance, how do I get copies of Linux distributions? With a torrent client of course! It involves a quick visit to LinuxTracker to find what’s available, select the desired torrent and download away we go! Of course, distributing Linux distros for free is perfectly in order as it’s all covered by the GNU General Public License (GPL) and other ‘copyleft’ licences under which free/open source software is distributed.

In the past P2P software has also been used to distribute data in scientific projects, of which the most famous is the Human Genome Project (HGP), which began in 1990 and is amazingly still going on.

However, coming right up to date, yesterday saw HM Government, hardly the most radical of organisations, releasing the COINS (Combined Online Information System) database of UK Government expenditure provided by government departments. This data is used to produce reports for Parliament and the public including expenditure data in the Budget and Pre-Budget reports, Supply Estimates; Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA) and the monthly Public Sector Finance Releases. It is also used by the ONS for statistical purposes. And before I forget to mention it, the data has been released as a torrent file for distribution via P2P; details can be found here.

Google says no more Microsoft

Late yesterday evening, the Financial Times (the sporting pink for the casino economy. Ed. 😉 ) reported that search engine giant Google is phasing out the use of Microsoft’s Windows platform for its employees.

The policy has been gradually implemented since January, when Google’s Chinese operations were hacked, which Google blames on the lack of security and vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system and other Microsoft software (e.g. Internet Explorer).

Unlike many employers, Google actually allows its staff, of whom it employs 10,000 internationally, a choice of operating systems. These will henceforth be just Linux or Mac OS. “Linux is open source and we feel good about it,” said one employee. “Microsoft we don’t feel so good about.”

Employees wanting to stay on Windows will require clearance from “quite senior levels”, according to one employee, whilst another declared, “Getting a new Windows machine now requires CIO approval”.

Read the original FT article.

Last day to register for BarnCamp 2010

Today is the last day to sign up for BarnCamp 2010, which will be staged in the beautiful Wye Valley from 11th to 13th June 2010, courtesy of Hacktionlab, a regular convergence space where activists interested and/or working in the areas of alternative media, renewable energy, online video distribution, free software or any other form of activism using technology can get together and plan how (or not) to harness the technology better to support grass roots social movements.

BarnCamp 2010 flyer

Barncamp promises fantastic tech in the sun (someone’s tempting the weather gods… Ed. 🙂 ), but advance registration is essential and will end on 1st June. Depending on whether you pay in advance (£25) or on the gate (£35), the cost of this year’s BarnCamp will vary. The fee includes meals, camping, all the entertainment, the planned workshops and the BarnCamp sessions.

This will be the third rural that has been put on in recent years and Bristol Wireless volunteers are again involved in organising and setting up the event, which has just reminded your correspondent he needs to find some white paint for doing signs…

Vintage Computer Festival

Vintage Computer Fair flyerOn 19th and 20th June this year, Bletchley Park, former home of Blighty’s World War 2 code breakers (when it was known as Station X. Ed.) and now the home of the National Museum of Computing, will be hosting Britain’s first ever Vintage Computer Festival (VCF).

The event is being billed as a unique gathering of enthusiasts and specialists to celebrate the history of computing, whilst the publicity promises:

  • Exhibitions of retro systems;
  • Lectures and special guests;
  • Bring and buy;
  • Demonstrations;
  • Retro systems traders;
  • Music and games; and
  • Museum tours.

Our old friend John Honniball is already preparing, judging from this tweet on his Twitter feed (which I’ve edited slightly for the sake of clarity. Ed.) earlier today:

Which reminds me, I must clear out a few things for the Bring & Buy at the Vintage Computer Festival. Probably more like Bring & Give Away for me

VCF will be open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on both days, whilst admission to Bletchley Park (map) will set you back 10 English pounds (although concessionary and family tickets are also available).

More information on VCF is available on the National Museum of Computing website.

Malta: government forms open source end user group

The Open Source Observatory and Repository reports that the government of Malta started the Government of Malta Open Source End User Group (Moseug) in April. The group is meant to become a major driving force behind open source initiatives in the country.

According to a Times of Malta article on the new user group, written by Michel Bugeja, an IT architect at Malta’s governmental Information Technology Agency (MITA), the government wants the group to help increase the use of open source software by government. “All stakeholders see the formation of the user group as a commitment from the government to promote open source software on equal play to proprietary software.”

It looks as if the United Kingdom is once again being outpaced by its European partners, even the smaller ones…

Read the original OSOR article.

Lack of Open Standards “gaping hole” in EC’s Digital Agenda

FSFE logoThe European Commission has officially published its long-awaited Digital Agenda, outlining its policy plans for the next five years. “While it includes some important building blocks for Free Software, the omission of Open Standards rips a gaping hole in this agenda,” says Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) President Karsten Gerloff.

The FSFE welcomes the Commission’s plans to give standards a greater role in the public procurement of software and to get dominant software vendors (I think the FSFE really means that virus testing platform masquerading as an operating system. Ed.) to licence their interoperability information, opening up the software market for Free Software vendors.

However, the Digital Agenda falls short of systematically promoting Free Software and Open Standards, missing the goals that EU Member States set for the Commission in the Granada and Malmö declarations. The Digital Agenda itself avoids any reference to Open Standards. Instead, the Commission points to the European Interoperability Framework. This is a document which FSFE’s analysis shows is currently being systematically hollowed out.

“The EC needs to adopt a strict definition of Open Standards, along the lines of the first European Interoperability Framework,” says Gerloff. He continues: “The Commission needs to put Open Standards at the heart of its strategy for the public sector’s IT systems. Only with the competition that Open Standards enable will we tap the full potential of Free Software for European innovation.” (Too right mate! Ed.)

AGM announced

Yer ‘umble scribe, wearing his company secretary’s hat, has just emailed the members the following notice:

NOTICE OF AGM

The Annual General Meeting of Bristol Wireless for 2009 will be held at 6.00 pm on Tuesday 1st June 2010 in the Lab, Hamilton House, Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3QY. It will be followed by our regular monthly meeting, before we all adjourn to a nearby hostelry.

All members are welcome to attend.

Agenda for AGM

  1. Receipt of the accounts and balance sheet and the reports of the Committee and auditor;
  2. Application of the audit exemption (in accordance with rule 54);
  3. Election of committee members;
  4. Application of profits:
  • firstly, to a general reserve for the continuation and development of the Co-operative;
  • secondly, in making payments for social or charitable purposes within the community served by the Co-operative.

We extend a warm welcome to all wishing to attend our Annual General Meeting. However, voting at the AGM will be restricted to members of the Co-operative (if you wish to join cross our Treasurer’s palm with the customary £1 fee!).

Steve Woods Company Secretary, 17th May 2010

BW accounts now running on Gnucash

It’s been a while (almost 2 years to the day. Ed.) since we last looked at Gnucash, the personal and small-business software that’s available for free under the GPL for Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows (news passim).

Gnucash startup screen

Yesterday in the lab, Jules, our treasurer, announced that he’d migrated the Bristol Wireless accounts from the previous Windows-only QuickBooks package to Gnucash.

Asked for his opinion as to how the package had changed since Malcolm (a friendly accountant who helps with our accounts) looked at it, his main reaction was that it was obviously written for North America and couldn’t handle this strange European fiscal creature called VAT and a lot of the terminology needed changing to match British vocabulary, so it appears that localisation is the main area of work to make Gnucash more useful. Over to you Gnucash developers!