This is a personal blog, please observe Think Hour for ad hoc quasi-diary writings and Big Ideas for my ratified longform items. I will see you there.


2020-09-01


It’s September now, and now I’m going to write another post now. Think Hour is here. Day 1 of 7 straight posts.

Open Source Software // SPI

Software in the Public Interest

My increasing use of and enjoyment with Blender is powering a continued admiration and lust for free and open source software, especially those that can be just as powerful as commercial varieties. If you’ve used Blender then you know how powerful it is and how broad its application can be. If you’ve some experience using other software for 3D modelling/rendering that is at a paid/pro tier such as C4D, then Blender is all the more impressive. Despite avoiding much of the cutting edges other software push and perhaps being less user friendly, it’s kind of absurd that this thing is totally free.

Before I lay it on too thick, the main topic I wanted to look into after browsing open source and free software (mostly some browsing of the Linux varieties) is the “software in the public interest” organization. I watched some YouTube videos that aim to give an overview of Linux, that meet a demand from the knowledge-less like myself, and they all seemed to tend towards a subtle endorsement of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a (surpassingly popular) Debian derivative and in turn the “SPI” organization was started as a vector for the Debian developers to receive donations to continue their work. Now it offers services to a wide range of since-associated projects and is a hub for support of these projects.

Ubuntu

Naturally you can see many Linux related and compatible projects on their associated projects page, some notable ones are the aforementioned progenitor Debian, then there’s the popular minimal distribution of Linux called Arch and one I hadn’t really heard of until now called Chakra, one of many I cannot immediately discern enough about to pin down a quick description in few words.

FFmpeg

There’s some absolute big swinging killers here that go far beyond the Linux realm. Anyone who has ever done anything with video will immediately notice FFmpeg, an immensely useful tool (and broader framework) for encoding video, decoding video, streaming and “muxing” (channel combining, seperating and swapping). People often use it to create webm files from a source mp4 for example.

LibreOffice

Another Big Boy that stands out to me is LibreOffice. I used to use OpenOffice, the project from which this one evolved, for school work about ten years ago, though I think I gave up and pirated MS Office after running into problems with compatibility of my documents. Sun Microsystems got ahold of OpenOffice and eventually let it go in 2011, at which point the project started becoming dead and the LibreOffice project took over in its stead. I’ve been using the set of apps that Google offer (docs and sheets) freely, but I’m interested in what it would be like to divorce myself from that and use this. Maybe it’s worth a shot, but I can’t imagine they have anything that would match the seamless sharing/collaboration options that Googles massive servers afford.

Other big names that jump out at me are haskell and OpenZFS. I don’t really have even the slightest bit of knowledge about these, but haskell is a programming language apparently useful for industrial type application and ZFS is a file system. There’s many more. Very cool…

Tithe

It wouldn’t feel right to stop browsing their website without offering some money. There’s a PayPal button for the site in general, and one for each project. What shall I donate to? I’m about to alter the course of history. I’m about to pay for a starving developer lunch. I am about to deploy a line of cocaine to the glass desk of a high octane project manager. I’ve just funded a translation community and localization platform for free and open source projects.