Webmink In Draft

Things cooking in the Minkiverse. They move elsewhere when the oven pings.

If you are using an Intel-powered Chromebook, did you know you can install LibreOffice on it, as a local app? It's extremely easy!

  1. Enable the Linux subsystem and AppImage support
  2. In the Linux folder, create a folder called Applications
  3. Download the AppImage build of LibreOffice into the folder

That's it! ChromeOS will (probably) do the rest. Go to the applications menu (press the search button on the keyboard) and look in the “Linux Applications” group to launch LibreOffice. It's as easy as a Mac!


Dear client,

Setting aside the challenges of using Zoom under ChromeOS and Linux, I have mostly been declining invitations to Zoom calls because of the terms they introduced from April 2023 in section 10 of their Terms of Service which seemed to force every user, with no opt-out to the Terms available and with recourse only via arbitration, to agree that Zoom could (whether they currently do or not):

  1. Train their AI on anything uploaded or created on Zoom (including transcripts and recordings) and use the consequent model for absolutely anything;
  2. Have indefinite and ownership-equivalent rights to do so in the future and
  3. Be indemnified by me if it turns out someone else owns the IP or has their rights infringed (for example to confidential materials everyone on the call is entitled to review).

Following public complaints they first tried to apply “you poor children don't understand” tactics and adding to the Terms to say they wouldn't do this (but leaving the terms that said they could intact), and then when that didn't fix anything they rolled back the whole thing again as if they were not using AI and it was not their fault that the whole thing happened..

Given Zoom did this once and were essentially unapologetic, they could do it again any time so I try to avoid using their service and will most likely just dial in by phone if I have to join your call.

I prefer Jitsi instead; it has equivalent functionality, is platform independent, is open source and can be self-hosted.


A clause in a software license that says something that sounds as simple as “you must follow the law” is problematic in practice and likely to render the license unapprovable as open source. Here's why.

Sign on a gate saying "Please Leave Free To Swing"


What has powered open source to become part of 75% of all software and drive nearly €100 bn of GDP in Europe? Reuse, yes. But that was always possible. Collaboration, definitely. But repositories existed for years before open source was coined in 1998. The software freedom philosophy. Absolutely, but that went 15 years without triggering a software revolution. I suggest it's something less measurable and observable — developer confidence — and that the effects involved are stochastic, not deterministic.

A bird soars above the greyness over water in the Everglades with the water, mist and sky creating bands of greyness as if devising a scale


Of the many attributes of software freedom that could move to front-of-mind, it strikes me that the minimal license compliance burdens for open source software users are actually a comparative strength. Having them presented as a dangerous weakness by commercial interests in various contexts (what has been called “the compliance-industrial complex”) applies a “frame” that serves only the detractors of software freedom. No wonder proprietary vendors want to divert our attention! Open source is so much easier!

A woman sits strapped to the top of a bi-plane painted in US patriotic decor and about to take off


During the discussions around European digital agenda legislation, I have frequently heard people proposing to define “open source” within a draft instrument. But that's a surprisingly difficult thing to do – it turns out that despite being a globally-understood term-of-art, capturing the whole thing in a phrase simple enough to use in a recital requires a great deal of thought and experience.

So people mostly defer to the OSI Open Source Definition, which is not designed for that purpose. This post considers three different ways to consider open source — knowing it when you see it, knowing it by its goals and knowing it by summarising its mechanism — and includes a recital-ready definition of open source for use in legislation that embodies the global consensus of its meaning.

Gold-coloured figure of a traffic policeman halting traffic, pictured on a glass surface above a keyboard


Ultimately software freedom is a matter of personal liberty, however it is framed. Whether you describe it as “open source” or “free software”, the goal is for each individual user of software to be self-sovereign in their software and data. Where the privilege of choice is available, this is a matter of consciously choosing liberty, and it is strictly a matter for each individual to make a set of choices — which will necessarily be inter-related.
A gull in flight against a blue sky with a whisp of cloud


Update: Graduated to the OSI Blog.


Like me you may be surprised to see the suggestion from the IMCO Committee to change “free and open source software” in the CRA to “freeware and open source software” in an amendment from Karen Melchior MEP1. It's not a word I have heard much this decade, so I checked with her team and discovered this was an informed and intentional choice, not a misunderstanding (by them, at least).

A squirrel peeps over a log


I just read a news story about how Chinese tech companies are threatening Europe by registering so many patents. Turns out it's in the context of “open standards” and is actually Chinese companies copying what European multinationals have done for years with patents embedded in standards. That Sword of Damocles cuts both ways.

The handles of three gigantic sword statues seen against a blue sky