Sunday, February 18, 2007

VCRs and Guns

I'm reading the book "Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig at the moment and just read a brilliant example about the problem with copyright laws; I thought I'd share!
In case you can't see it clearly, the caption reads "On which item have the courts ruled that manufacturers and retailers be held responsible for having supplied the equipment?".

The story is that Universal Studios (I think) went to the courts protesting that Sony was responsible for damages caused by the record feature on their new VCRs because, amongst all the legal uses, it enabled people to illegally copy content owned by Universal. Guns, on the other hand, kill people and yet their manufacturers' and retailers' aren't, or have never been, held responsible for murders involving guns.

That ruling was overturned but it's a pretty funny example of the complete lack of common sense surrounding "creative property" law. I'm not sure what the British situation is on all of this as most of the material I've been reading is by American authors but I plan to find out soon...

Friday, February 09, 2007


I've been trying to make a DVD that would both play in an ordinary DVD player and also boot in to a GNU/Linux live CD when in a computer. Apparently nobody else has wanted to do this because I haven't been able to find any documentation on the net but I have eventually figured out the rather obvious solution! I guess anyone else who wanted to do this probably knew more about mkisofs than I did but just in case there's ever any one else who needs to know how to do this, and doesn't know more about mkisofs than I do I'm going to document it very quickly here. (Also for my own future reference!)

mkisofs -dvd-video -pad -l -r -J -v -V "KNOPPIX" -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 \
-boot-info-table -b boot/isolinux/isolinux.bin -c boot/isolinux/ \
-hide-rr-moved -o /mnt/hda1/knx/knoppix.iso /mnt/hda1/knx/master

This example obviously takes Knoppix as the Live CD you're attempting to make but it should work for any live distribution that uses isolinux. The only relevant option to change is the -o, which should point to where you want the iso image to be created and the option following that, which specifies the input folder - i.e. where all your files are which you want to be put in to the iso image.

Hope this helps someone,


Thursday, February 08, 2007

New episode coming!

I'm interviewing Mark Shuttleworth on the 26th of this month (February) so feel free to send in any questions you have for him! The format will be slightly different as I've only got one guest for this episode but the rest is the same, i.e. Mark answering your questions! I'm expecting to mostly take questions on his work with Ubuntu Linux (as he is the founder of the project!) but if people do send in questions about his space trip and such like maybe I'll ask those too.

Oops, almost forgot to put down the contact details. Either send the questions to or leave a voice mail at 0121 286 9845 (+44). Feel free to visit the site,, to find more information, another way to get in touch or to find past episodes for download :-)

I know I haven't been posting so much to this blog lately but my blogging over at Free Software Magazine has been taking my writing attention and also I've started on a new project - more details of that one to follow soon!