Switched to Mandriva…

Mandriva Linux

I finally did it! Been talking about ditching Ubuntu for ages and never found the time (you know… backup, new install, restore, get familiar, etc.). It turns out that last Thursday while extending my /home partition with a LiveCD, for some reasons something went wrong and I ended it with my bigger partition having the same remaining free space as before being extended (I had a 20GiB unused space on the disk initially). Thinking I had been lucky not to lose anything, I backed up and installed Mandriva One. It’s a bit like going back to my first love Mandrake (second actually, started Linux with Red Hat when it was free many years ago)! Of course I preferred the name back then, but for obvious reasons they couldn’t keep it.

So Mandriva has actually a specific ISO file for Asia which can be downloaded from a Chinese mirror maintained by our good friend Funda. It includes all the necessary files to support Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Malay and a few more languages I think. Installation was almost ok, couldn’t do it in 3D mode but hey, I can live with that (the install button just wouldn’t click).

The first 6 hours using Mandriva where a bit challenging in the sense that I had to get familiar with urpmi and how to do things. They do have a great Linux Control Center (mcc) where you can find all the things to be configured in one single location. Their network manager is also very powerful and has all the options one should expect from such a tool. Had a little rendering problem with my Chinese fonts (using English desktop with Chinese enabled) which was due to a conflict with the Japanese fonts. Well in short after two days of discussion with Patrick who visit us regularly, Funda and Freeflying on #mandrivacn I got everything fixed, missing applications from the repositories backported and a service that really impressed me: Kudos to Mandriva and its community.

Now an other reason for supporting Mandriva is that they’ve been trying to build a community here, have hired people to improve Chinese support and are even building the operating system that will run on the Gdium (the Loongson based general purpose Chinese CPU). So definitely an interesting distribution worth following and encouraging.

I again extend a big thank you to Funda, Freeflying and Patrick for their help, and recommend everyone to give it a try.

Starting to get SFD schwag samples

Thanks to our successful Software Freedom Day event last year I am now a Software Freedom International board member. SFI is the non-profit organization behind Software Freedom Day, the group of people helping each of the now 400+ teams worldwide making the event happening at the same date (3rd Saturday of September – 20th this year) every year since 2004!

And every year SFI, thanks to the help of its sponsors, sends schwags to each team for free. This year I was the lucky one picked to manage the making of those schwags. As you can see we are starting to receive samples, comparing them to last year schwag, making sure the balloons inflate well, that colors are right and printing is on par with our expectations. A big thank you to Pockey and Jennifer for their help on managing this, and Jason for helping out with artwork modifications.

In about a week time I hope we’ll be able to start shipping and I’ll ask for the generosity of my preferred community, the Beijing LUG, to give a helping hand to count and pack the almost 300 boxes we’ll be sending all over the world!

Meeting with Mozilla Europe

As mentioned previously I had the opportunity to meet and discuss with Tristan Nitot, Mozilla Europe President, while in Paris. We exchanged views and tactics about web standards promotion and Firefox adoption in different markets.

Tristan like some of us at the Beijing LUG is a man who does what he believes in, no matter what it takes, and started Mozilla Europe as a volunteer. He invested his time (and therefore money) where his heart was when AOL got rid of Netscape and fired everybody. Since we don’t hear much about what’s happening in China with Mozilla Online, I asked him what he thought helped Mozilla in Europe and if there was a “magic recipe” for success…

When starting the Mozilla Europe Association, Tristan and other members of the Firefox community tested the most visited 1000 sites in each European country, analyzed what was not working well under Firefox and emailed the fixes to each webmaster. Definitely a long and tedious process, but worth doing if you care about the web. The second step, Tristan said, and probably a very important one too, was market share. With currently 28% market share in Europe any webmaster with a bit of brain will care for standards.

Another significant detail I liked about Mozilla Europe, is that they share their office with Mandriva (a Linux distribution) and are definitely close to all things community and Linux – a bit too much sometimes admitted Tristan.

Now where does this put us, poor “Chinese mortals”? Mozilla China is in the same building as the Microsoft MSN team, Netease, Google and Sun, has very low market share and often manages to cancel (at the last minute) when invited (and confirmed) at open source conferences or community driven events. Mozilla is after market shares even in China and therefore I really wonder what is their current strategy.

To conclude it was really refreshing to be able to discuss about real problems and find out what worked in Europe. I sincerely wish Mozilla China can learn from this openness and apply some of it in our middle kingdom.

Back in town!

After 2 weeks in France I am finally back in Beijing and so happy to be here! The way back was rather hectic due to bad subway/train fare charging and no signage in the airport. In fact you can buy a subway ticket that let you take the train to the airport, however the fare is more expensive and you have no option to pay the difference on arrival: you arrive at the gate where your undervalued ticket doesn’t let you go out and there is no counter or staff around! Luckily someone was nice enough to use his monthly card to let me out (together with another lost soul) and send me to the wrong terminal. It’s probably too difficult for the French (Aéroport de Paris I should blame) to place signs telling travelers which airlines take off from which of the 3 terminals…

That being said the trip was rather ok with half of the time sunny days, no special trouble, my 99 years and six month old great-aunt perfectly healthy, my good friends happy to see me and a few unexpected encounters such as Mandriva‘s nice office and team, Mozilla Europe President and the people behind the Gdium project!

On top of that I also went to an Open Source meeting organized every first Thursday of the month by the Paris LUG called “Parinux” (among many other events they organize). It was nice to see how other countries and LUG do but what I can tell you is that the Beijing LUG is definitely the group to join if you want to see more girls and meet Open Source programmers ;). I was told that in France developers tend not to attend those types of events and that LUGs or other communities are rather influential with the politicians. As an example AFUL together with a few other associations just won a battle about a non-refundable pre-installed Windows against DELL for 50,000.- € just for 1 case. Class action suit is not allowed in France so each case is reviewed one by one. Of course you can imagine that there are a few cases in the pipeline and that manufacturers and OEMs do worry a little ;).

That’s about it for today. I will probably write a bit more about each encounter as they do warrant a full report!