Technology and Internet

EU-Free and Open Source Software Auditing project

Today I stumbled on this blog post about a poll for the EU-FOSSA. I’m not familiarized with all aspects of this pilot project, however by the information I could gather, it seems to be a really great idea.

Most of us regularly use, up to a certain degree, several pieces of free (as in freedom) software on a daily basis. Many of these projects are essential to assure the security of our communications, documents and work. European institutions and countries make use of these tools as well, so why not spend a little time and money to assure they meet certain quality goals and are free of major bugs that can undermine the safety of its users?

This will also raise the public’s trust on these tools, so they can become standards over their proprietary counterparts, which we are unable to review and modify according to our needs, leading to many security questions.

One of its components is a sample review of one open-source project and until the 8th day of July you can give your opinion on which one. Go there it only takes 1 minute and it will help them understand that this is an important issue. Here is the link

Random Bits

0 A.D: a pleasant surprise

When I was younger, I remember being a great fan of real-time strategy games, specially those based of history. One of the main reasons I was really happy when I’ve got my first computer, was that from that moment i would be able to play the first “Age of Empires” game, which my dad bought together with the computer. During months I saved 100% of my allowance, just to be able to buy the first expansion pack the “Rise of Rome”. In the years that followed, I’d also bought the second version of the game and its expansion pack, spending countless hours playing them.

More than a decade after, which I went through without playing games (or at least on a regular basis), I’ve decided to find some RTS of this genre to play. Since the Age of Empires series do not run on Linux based operating systems, I had to start looking for similar alternatives. I didn’t took long to find the first contender, which is called 0 A.D., the game is open source and from the contents shown on the website it looked just what I was looking for.

In the game you can choose between 8 factions/civilizations from the ancient times (the website says that on the final release there will be 12), each of them with special characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. The Idea is that these civilizations should have had their peak between the 500 B.C. and 500 A.C., leaving many more contenders in the waiting list to be added to the possible choices.

The game is in 3D, where you have control over the camera and you can adjust it to the best angle on any given situation. The graphics look pretty good turning the game into a nice experience. Other aspect that I really liked is that even tough there are specialized units, many of them can assume roles on both worlds (the military and the civilian) which opens a whole range of possibilities.

According to the development team the game is still on “alpha”, or in other words it’s “far from completion”, however it already is playable both on single and multi-player (during the few hours I’ve spent playing it I didn’t found any annoying issue).

So if you like this kind of games give it a try, the official page of the game, where you can download the last version, is On Debian (testing) you can use apt since the repositories are up to date.

Technology and Internet

On buying new hardware

When I was buying my laptop some years ago, I wished I knew of a website with a database of hardware that works well with free software. Specially with any operating system based on Linux, so I wouldn’t get into too much trouble to get everything working. Instead I ended up purchasing a machine that came with Windows and a bunch of hardware that depended on proprietary drivers to work well. It took ages to get every feature to work as it should on my chosen distribution.

Recently I discovered h-node, a website created by the free software foundation (FSF) together with Debain GNU/Linux which tries to:

… aim at the construction of a hardware database in order to identify what devices work with a fully free operating system.

Since not everyone uses Windows or Mac OSX, I hope this might be helpful to those reading this blog. As for me, next time I need to buy something I already know where to start my research.