Posts Tagged ‘open source’

Setting up a free C64 emulator for retro game fun

August 8, 2018 Leave a comment

I just installed the C64 emulator VICE on an old Windows laptop and set it up with shortcuts for some old time games that I used to play in the 80s.

My 6 year old son really likes Donald Duck’s Playground where you do odd jobs as Donald to earn cents and dollars to buy playground equipment for your nephews and let them play:

Setting up the game required the download of a zip archive containing a *.d64 image file that can be autostarted by VICE. I created a desktop shortcut to the x64.exe file in VICE with the path of the d64 file as command line parameter. That gives you a shortcut that will start VICE and autostart the game right away. Add the -fullscreen option to start the emulator in fullscreen mode.

I had to enable keyboard mapping for Joystick 2 as shown on the WinVice c64-Wiki.

VICE is a cool emulator that runs on Unix, MS-DOS, Win32, OS/2, BeOS, QNX 4.x, QNX 6.x, Amiga, Syllable or Mac OS.

Games I might try next include Spy vs Spy, Aztec Tomb, Q-Bert and I few others. :)

Testing HTML5 / CSS3 editor BlueGriffon

July 21, 2017 Leave a comment

I used to use the now-outdated Mozilla based editor Kompozer, which was a bug-fix fork of Nvu.

Today I realized that in the meantime (since 2015) the Nvu author Daniel Glazman has developed BlueGriffon, an Open Source next-generation Web Editor based on the current rendering engine of Firefox.

I just installed it on Windows at work and my Debian laptop at home and plan to give it a try.

If it is easy to use and generates clean standards-compliant code, I might use it for Web UI mock-ups and other prototyping. :)

Categories: apps, coding, css, firefox, gui, html Tags: ,

My favorite Free/Open Source Intellij Community plugins

July 28, 2016 Leave a comment

DBeaver – My new favorite DB tool

October 8, 2015 Leave a comment

I have used Toad for Oracle and Oracle SQL Developer. Those are both good for working with Oracle databases.

However, I generally prefer Open Source tools and ideally something that works with other databases as well.

So I looked around, tried TOra but found it buggy and too limited. Also, its development is quite slow, see commit history.

Then I came across DBeaver and liked it a lot. It is actively developed, the latest version 3.5.1 was actually released 3 days ago.

It is a cross-platform tool (Windows, Linux, MacOS, other Unixes) written in Java, uses the Eclipse framework for a lot of great out-of-the-box features and is overall quite polished.

It supports many databases via JDBC. More details and some comparison with similar tools are mentioned on its About page.


Categories: coding, dev-tools, java Tags: , , ,

“Lidar News” publishes uninformed (L)GPL rant

June 16, 2015 4 comments

In its “Random Points” column, the June 2015 issue (Vol.5 #4) of Lidar News, recently renamed LidarMag, contains an opinion piece called “Open Source Mania” (PDF) by Lewis Graham, a director of the board with ASPRS, the organization that defines the LAS file format.

The article contains grains of interesting and potentially relevant comments on the LGPL, but without properly spelling things out: The LGPL – if not amended with a static linking exception as in the LASzip license – has “copyleft” implications when the library code is statically linked, which is somewhat similar to but not as strict as the “strong copyleft” nature of the GPL. I recommend reading the LGPL section of the “Copyleft Guide” or a good article on the Open Source “risks” and considerations during corporate acquisitions and mergers.

Having said that, Lewis Graham’s piece contains many inaccuracies and unfair judgements:

1) The author underhandedly attacks Martin Isenburg’s broadly supported attempts to have the LGPL-licensed de-facto standard LASzip accepted as an Open Standard and then goes into a rant about the GPL, while lumping both licenses together as “viral”. The LGPL – not the GPL – explicitly allows the use as dynamically linked library without any licensing impact on the main program. Combining the attack on the LASzip community with a rant against GPL while ignoring the main difference between LGPL and GPL is unfair to say the least.

Lewis also fails to mention that the LASzip license is actually LGPL with an additional clause that explicitly allows even static linking without licensing impact on the main program.

2) He falsely claims that “Open Source” was never defined but fails to mention the Open Source Initiative (OSI) who coined the term and provided exactly that Open Source definition.

3) The article misleadingly mentions the Free Software Foundation as the “anchor organization” of Open Source, repeats the old misunderstanding that “Free Software” should not cost money and fails to mention the “Free Software” definition by the FSF.

4) The author spreads long debunked FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) about the GPL, claiming that all “code [that] touches GPL code in any manner [..] is now GPL”. In particular he makes false claims that the following uses of GPL code would be “viral”:

  • Executing a GPL licensed program from a script via process execution (“Unix fork”) explicitly does not impose any licensing restrictions on that script, as per GPL FAQ
  • Derived works that incorporate GPL licensed code, do not automatically become GPL licensed. Only when the derived work is distributed the following applies (quoting GPLv2, section 6): “Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions.”

5) The author repeatedly refers to an “Open Software Foundation”. He seems to confuse or conflate Open Source Initiative (OSI) and Free Software Foundation (FSF). The actual “Open Software Foundation” – later merged into “The Open Group” – has not much to do with either OSI, FSF or software licenses.

6) The author keeps calling the GPL “toxic”, while in fact the GPL is a widely known and court-proven license in the software industry that many companies use successfully as part of their business models, for example Redhat (Linux), Oracle (MySQL), etc. Especially Dual Licensing based business models actually benefit from the relatively restrictive nature of the GPL.

7) The author praises the MIT license as “reasonable” because of its permissive nature (i.e. not imposing any significant licensing restrictions on derived works). As he makes that judgement he takes only the perspective of companies that want to use Open Source libraries in their proprietary closed-source products. He ignores the perspective of Open Source developers, communities and companies who want to protect their work from embrace and extend and other hostile take-over strategies and deliberately use copyleft licenses like the GPL to protect their software.

8) Overall, the author fails to accept that it is the copyright holders freedom to chose a license that suits their needs and intentions.

“Why do I have to pay for Redhat if it is ‘Free Software’?”

February 12, 2014 8 comments

Unfortunately but quite naturally, there are many many people who are surprised when they first learn that “Free Software” is not necessarily available as a free-of-charge download in immediately usable (i.e. compiled binary) form.

“Free” is an ambiguous word in the English language: Free like “free beer” (= gratis, free of charge) versus free like “Free Speech” (= libre, based on guaranteed freedoms, liberties).

This ambiguity is an old problem of the term “Free Software” – first coined by the “Free Software Foundation” (FSF) in the 1980s – and was actually one factor that motivated the foundation of the “Open Source Initiative” (OSI) and its official definition of “Open Source”.

Both definitions use the same criteria and are essentially different names for the same category of software. To acknowledge and peacefully combine both of these naming conventions some people also speak of “Free/Libre Open Source Software” (FLOSS).

The Redhat Linux distribution is Free/Libre Open Source Software. The source code is licensed under the GPL and similar Open Source licenses and can be downloaded from Redhat’s ftp server. The binaries are not available as gratis download, which is perfectly in line with FLOSS rules.

For almost every IT professional these days, it is very beneficial to understand what “Free/Libre Open Source Software” (FLOSS) is. It might seem like a complex and dry subject at first, especially when some business folks confuse things further by using the vague term “Intellectual Property” for everything from copyright, trademarks, patents to license agreements, etc.

Categories: coding, linux Tags: ,

Open Source / Free Software : Beware the Black Duck

February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

I usually refer to the OSI list of popular Open Source licenses when someone asks me which FLOSS licenses are relevant and recommendable.

Recently someone pointed out the Black Duck list of popular licenses as a “more recent” reference list.

After some reviewing, I would strongly recommend against that Black Duck list, for several reasons:

Lack of neutrality

Open Source Initiative (OSI) is the foundation that first officially defined the term “Open Source”, as a non-profit, vendor neutral organization, free from any commercial goals.

Black Duck Software is a venture-capital-funded, for-profit entity with strong ties to certain big software vendors.

Irrelevant licenses

The licenses that Black Duck added relative to the OSI popular licenses list, include several unpopular, problematic licenses with less than 1% market share, like for example:


Black Duck has been repeatedly accused of bias against copyleft licenses like the GPL and having spread misinformation about the popularity of those licenses.

Questionable patents

Black Duck has managed to be granted patents on trivial “software methods for detecting and resolving open source software licensing conflicts”. This not only contradicts the spirit of sharing and software freedom by most definitions of common sense but also illustrates the aggressive for-profit focus of the company.

Professor Bradley Kuhn from the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) went so far as to say: “Black Duck again shows itself as a company whose primary goal is to prey on people’s fear of software freedom.” (quoting from an article on

Categories: opinion Tags: , , ,