The Evolution of Linux-- A documentary
NEW: Three minute preview released,
Oreilly publishes GNU/Linux multimedia article written by Fulton

Download the first preview of the a documentary, The Evolution of Linux. It runs three minutes, and is in the MPEG1 format.  GNU/Linux users should use Loki's SMPEG player, Windows and Mac users can use their OS's native player.
Fulton has been working on a series of articles about video post-production under GNU/Linux. Article #1 has been published at oreillynet.com.


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A
Story
About
Technology,
Rebellion,
Cooperation
and
Freedom.

Orwell and Huxley have made clear the social-structure industrialized nations are destined for if technology and information are controlled by only the ruling elite.  But the Internet and GNU/Linux have the potential to upset the technocracy, by delivering valuable information to the working and middle-class, while putting cheap and useful tools into their hands.

Video


Richard Stallman
-----
Photo by Bryan Damitz
9/23/99, University of British Columbia-- Richard Stallman, the Founder of the Free Software Foundation and the GNU operation system, introduces the concept of free software.

Rob Malda

Photo by Stephen Fromm
8/12/99, LinuxWorld Expo-- Rob Malda, the founder of Slashdot.org talks about Internet journalism until he is interrupted by Gov. Jesse Ventura, who is making obscene gestures off camera.

Miguel de Icaza

8/12/99, LinuxWorld Expo-- Miguel de Icaza, director of the GNOME project and founder of Helix Code, tells us what the Linux desktop is really about.

Interviews

Tim O'Reilly

Photo by Stephen Fromm
8/11/99, LinuxWorld Expo--
Tim O'Reilly, the founder of O'Reilly Associates talks about the legacy of Open Source.  "Linux is the second coming of Open Source," he says.

Michael Tiemann

Photo by Stephen Fromm
8/11/99, LinuxWorld Expo-- Michael Tiemann, the founder of Cygnus and CTO of RedHat, talks about spirit of Open Source economics.

Articles

Embedded Linux to play significant role

Linux may live up to the Java dream



Famine, FUD in San Jose

LinuxWorld Expo Report, August 1999 



The Road to GNU: Chilling Details of a Road Trip Gone Berserk

Forty-eight hours without sleep had turned us into animals.  After the sick incident at the gas station, we were running scared.



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The Evolution of Linux edits exclusively with
Broadcast2000
A non-linear, full SMP editing solution for GNU/Linux.



NEWS

Fulton releases AcidGimp software.  Download the video effects software AcidGimp. Curtis Lee Fulton has gone into seclusion so he could write this piece of software, which was needed for some scenes in The Evolution of Linux. Now that the software is close to finished, he's releasing it to the public.

Jan 25 2000 The Evolution of Linux documentary team bringing hourly multimedia coverage of the New York LinuxWorld Expo to LinuxNews.com.

Dec 23 1999  Documentary The Evolution of Linux goes Open Source. 



BOYCOTT
AMAZON.COMCyber Thugs: A doomed company's last desperate move




Strange and Free Music:
Check out the director's last project, Jethro Meets the Pope.

The Road to GNU:
Chilling Details of a Road Trip Gone Berserk

Forty-eight hours without sleep had turned us into animals.  After the sick incident at the gas station, we were running scared.

The UHaul had a bad starter, so we couldn't shut the vehicle off without stranding ourselves for hours.  While I pumped gas into the idling junker, Bryan Damitz, the photographer, went into the Star Mart to buy a map of Vancouver, BC.  He came back with a map of Washington, and refused to exchange it, mumbling something about making "a fool of myself in there."  When I went into the mart to exchange the map, I suddenly lost my composure.  Laughing hysterically I lunged toward the clerk and threw the map down on the counter next to the cash register.  I was able to pull myself together enough to demand a map of Vancouver and then flee. 

We had an interview scheduled with Richard Stallman at 11: 00 am.  It was 10:20.  We were dead lost and running out of time and self-control. 

by Curtis Lee Fulton

"I said turn right," Damitz shouted, as the truck roared through a respectable university neighborhood, endangering children and wandering pets. 

"damn it," I shouted back, "you need to make yourself more clear." 

"I am," replied Damitz, "I told you to turn left on 10th five blocks ago.  There. Flip a bitch there." 

"Fine," I said. I banked a hard right into an empty two-car driveway belonging to a white three-story house, screeched a hard left back toward the street, ripped through some soggy lawn, ramped off the curb and steered the UHaul to the missed street. 

UHaul is a wretched company. I want to encourage you, reader, to never conduct business with these thieves. 

I rented the junker in Eugene. The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, where I work as a Linux System Administrator, was generous enough to lend me over $10,000 worth of video equipment, none of which I understood how to use. That was up to Damitz.  By 8pm the truck was loaded and I began to drive north to meet Damitz in Portland. 

When I arrived in Portland, the UHaul broke down. 

Damitz and I diagnosed the problem as a bad starter. The problem with a bad starter is that starters never actually break, they just sort of degrade. 

So after running between one and 10 minutes, this heavily degraded starter had about a 50% chance of sending current to the four spark plugs embedded in the Honda engine when I turned the ignition key. 

If the truck had been running for over half an hour, it was guaranteed not to start until the entire engine was cold enough to touch. 

These facts were gleaned through careful observations as Damitz and I cursed, tired-kicked and prayed our way up to Vancouver, WA, where we spent 45 minutes drinking caustic StarMart coffee and waiting for the engine to cool. We vowed never to shut the vehicle off until this trip was over. 

Back when the truck refused to start in Portland, Damitz and I were certain it would never start without the administration of a professional mechanic. 

"I'm sorry sir," said the girl on the other end of 1-800-WE-SCRD-U, "no mechanic is available until ten tomorrow morning." 

I could hear dogs barking in the background. Obviously this number routed to somebody's house. What kind of company was this? 

"But I need to be in BC by ten," I said, "I need a mechanic now. This is your fault and you need to fix it." 

"I'm sorry sir. . ." 

After slamming the phone down, I wandered outside to find Damitz frantically stuffing the equipment into his elderly sports car.

"I don't care if we destroy this car on way," he said, "we are going to complete this trip." 

"Maybe we can use my parents car," I said, "we can drive your car out to my folk's place and pick their vehicle up." 

"OK," said Damitz. 

I called UHaul back. "Look," I said, "I mentioned earlier that I have a schedule to be concerned with. I need to abort this contract. I'm going to leave the vehicle at a specified address and I need your people's mechanics to come by and pick it up whenever they can."

"Then you will be fined for abandoning a vehicle," the voice replied. "It is your responsibility to deliver the truck to the registered destination."  The dogs were yelping now. They sounded hungry.

"But this is your fault!" I shouted, "what am I supposed to do, spend two weeks nursing this piece of shit up to BC? Have your mechanics meet me every 30 miles at truckstops?" 

"I'm sorry sir. . ." 

It is times like these when I worry about this country. Was this the state Russia was in, just before it collapsed? What happened to the efficiency of capitalism? My plane never departs on time. 

"Wake up!" Damitz shouted as I drifted into oncoming traffic. "This street will lead us into the heart of the university. Now, what department are we trying to find?" 

"I don't know," I replied, "we need to find a pay phone and make a call." 

I bounced the UHaul up a gravel drive toward a stone castle. To the right was a smaller building with a pay phone stuck to the wall. I jumped out and ran to the phone to call my University of British Columbia contact.

"The starters bad and we can't turn this truck off until we're stopped for good," I explained. "Has Stallman checked in?" 

"No," replied Gail, "he's late too." 

"That's good news," I replied, "this trip has been one disaster after another. Where can we safely park this truck and unload our equipment?" 

Suddenly I heard the bray of an 18-wheeler.  I turned around and saw a black semi-truck inching toward the UHaul, which was blocking traffic. 

Damitz jumped up from the passenger's seat to move the truck, and as he did he smashed his head into the overhanging compartment.  The concussion sent him reeling backward.  BAAWAAAAMMPP!! The semi driver had no patience for this.  Damitz stumbled around in circles for a few seconds before hobbling around the front of the truck toward the driver's seat. 

"Damnit," I had said to Damitz earlier at a gas station, rubbing my pounding head and pointing at a sticker headlined "DANGER," which had a crude drawing of a docile man ramming his head into the compartment's underside, "no amount of documentation in the world can make up for poor architecture." 

But as I watched Damitz lurch around in pain and confusion, I began to laugh hysterically.  I couldn't control myself, and Gail was in the middle of instructions as to where we could park the orange and white monstrosity without getting it towed. 

"Hello?" asked Gail.  "Excuse me," I replied, "it's been a long drive. Could you repeat that?"

* * * * * * *

Damitz and I lugged 12 silver cases up four flights of stairs.  After that, Damitz slammed into action.

"Key light here. How tall is Stallman? We need to kill that ugly reflection off the south wall. Where's the video monitor? Where's Stallman?"

Stallman is about 6 feet tall, has a thick beard and long hair and speaks in a soft, musical voice with a hint of nasal resonance. He was checking his email from a battered laptop. He had just returned from lunch.

"I need some Asian students to guide me through downtown Vancouver," I had heard him say to someone when we arrived, "I need help finding the best breaded duck possible."

While Stallman was eating lunch and Damitz was setting up the lights I flipped through my notes made from various web sites. Every Linux FAQ I found claimed that "Linux is a free Unix-type operating system that was originally created by Linus Torvalds with the assistance of developers around the world."

But recently I learned that Linux was just a kernel-- that it needed an entire operating system (minus the kernel) to make it useful. Stallman and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) had spent almost ten years working on creating a free operating system but got stalled on the kernel.  Torvalds was able to combine his kernel with the GNU project to make a whole operating system.

So why call the result Linux? It didn't seem fair. More importantly, it masked the immense cooperation required to produce a functioning OS. The first working version of "Linux" was not the invention of a Finnish student after two years of labor-- it was the product of hundreds of people's hard work, work that was done long before Torvalds wrote the first line of code for his kernel.

I knew how Stallman felt about these issues and I knew what his responses would be. I had read well over 50 interviews with Stallman and his answers had been consistent. I wasn't here seeking anything unique using as a novel line of questions designed to pry open Stallman's sub-conscience and reveal his secret inner struggle.  I just needed to get his predictable responses on tape.

"Listen," I told Stallman, "you are going to be the narrator for this documentary. You've seen GNU/Linux evolve from the beginning. I need you to guide the audience through the basic architecture of Linux. I'm going to ask you questions about GNU and the FSF and I'm going to ask you questions that will help clear up what the difference is between a kernel and a compiler. I also need you to look directly into the camera instead of me. Just pretend it's a person."

"Well hello Mr. Camera," Stallman answered.

"Hello," I responded.

"How long have you been a camera?"

"A couple of years."

"Do you have to go to school to become a camera, or are you just born that way?"

"Go to school."

"Oh, well, do you think I could become a camera?"

"Sure."

"Say, you're mighty handsome for a camera."

"Ok. What is free software?"

After 35 minutes the interview was over and Stallman rushed off to give a speech to a bunch of UBC hackers packed into an auditorium. On his way out the door he handed me a brown paper bag.  "Breaded duck," he said.

Damitz struggled to detach the camera from its tripod then chased Stallman to the auditorium so he he could get some shots of Stallman taking the mike. I sat down and munched on the duck and thought about the interview.  "Why," I wondered, "was it so hard for the mainstream press to grasp the importance of Stallman's work?"

Perhaps because to grasp the importance of GNU, one must have at least a basic understanding of the difference between a kernel and a compiler.   And this requires understanding of what source code is and what a compiler does. That's a lot of words for a news story.  It's easier to just lump the whole package into something called Linux and say one person invented it.

"I guess I have a lot of work to do," I said aloud. Just then Damitz walked through the door. "Want some duck?" I offered.

Damitz made a face. "No thanks."

He had told me once that he hated breaded meat of any kind.

I said something about the weird things humans eat. "Once," Damitz replied, "I ate some raw squid sushi with a raw quail egg broke over the top."

"That is sick dude. Don't tell me that."

Damitz laughed. "You hick. People eat stuff like that for the texture."

I grimaced. Maybe there are some things other people will never understand.  I hope GNU isn't one of them.

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