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Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Wikipedia day at Madlab

From: Mark Reynolds
Subject: Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Wikipedia day at Madlab
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2011 12:24:32 +0000

> I’d like to hope this is not just a Wikimedia Foundation publicity and 
>fundraising event
I never said it was, Wikipedia doesn't exactly need any publicity,
this isn't what it's intended to be about. I want to explain the
benefits of contributing and show how people can do so regardless of
their level of ability. I'll also be talking about the importance of
the Creative Commons licenses, the role of free software in running
the site and what Wikipedia has in common with the free software
philosophy and how you can contribute to open source projects in many
of the same ways you can with Wikipedia.

>Is this just a slip, because it looks like a conscious decision was made to 
>find and replace all occurrences of “open source” with “free software”? :P
I'm primarily trying to aim this at a largely non-technical audience
and using the event to introduce them to the basic ideas and concepts
through something that they're already familiar with. This kind of
political debate and infighting would put people off looking at even
the basics.

>What software does Wikipedia use?
Actually, quite a lot. Google is your friend here:
The site started as a Perl CGI script running on single server in
2001. Wikipedia now has 200 application servers, 20 database servers
and 70 servers dedicated to Squid cache servers.
Wikipedia is powered by the MediaWiki software, which was originally
written to run Wikipedia and is now an open source project. MediaWiki
uses PHP running on a MySQL database. Mituzas said MySQL instances
range from 200 to 300 gigabytes. In addition to Squid, Wikipedia uses
Memcached and the Linux Virtual Server load balancer. Wikipedia also
uses database sharding to set up master-slave relationships between

Wikimedia chooses Ubuntu for all of its servers

I hope we can put these squabbles aside on the day.

On 15 January 2011 11:09, Simon Ward <address@hidden> wrote:
> And here’s my more detailed response/diatribe (delete as appropriate):
> On Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 01:11:15PM +0000, Mark Reynolds wrote:
>> As you may know it's Wikipedia's 10th birthday on Saturday.
>> http://ten.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
>> There are now 4 events in the UK to celebrate this, one was yesterday
>> in Bristol where Jimmy Wales is giving a talk and another 2 on
>> Saturday, one in Glasgow and one at the British library in London
>> where they're having an editathon. Unfortunately I found out about
>> them too late. I also think it's a bit of a lack lustre response
>> considering there are so many Wikipedia users in the UK, so I've
>> arranged one at MadLab for this Sunday from 11am to 5pm.
> Good initiative, let’s hope it can be put to more deserving projects in
> future.  I’d like to hope this is not just a Wikimedia Foundation
> publicity and fundraising event, but I can’t get those unfortunate
> banners previously plastered all over Wikipedia out of my head.
> Speaking of unfortunate banners, does anyone else think the fundraising
> banners on gnu.org sites are offensive to the eyes?
>> As I'm sure you all know Wikipedia's very well known and relies on a
>> lot of free software so it would be nice if we could take advantage of
>> this to educate people about free software and use Wikipedia as an
>> example of how it can be used in the real world to cope with the
>> demands of, in this case, one of the most popular websites on the
>> Internet
> So far, so good.  This is great, and I’d love to hear how Wikipedia uses
> free software.  Practical examples of using free software are great;
> free software *does* have a use after all.  I wasn’t just advocating an
> abstract concept all this time.
>> as well as introduce people to the open source philosophy that has
>> helped make it such a success.
> Is this just a slip, because it looks like a conscious decision was made
> to find and replace all occurrences of “open source” with “free
> software”? :P
> Unfortunately, there are philosophical differences between the free
> software movement and the open source movement, and these are hard to
> avoid, and hard to explain to the uninitiated.
> The problem, free software and open source software often refer to
> precisely the same thing.  The software doesn’t change, and free
> software licenses are also approved by the Open Source Initiative
> against the Open Source Definition as open source licenses, so there’s
> no difference there.
> I can try to summarise open source as lacking the values of free
> software, or a marketing term to try and make free software acceptable
> to those who care less about its values, and in doing so dilutes the
> meaning, but I don’t think it conveys the whole story as well as the
> article “Why Open Source Misses the Point of Free Software”[1].
> [1]: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html
>> I was thinking that as part of it people could do a short 5-10 minute
>> talk introducing a piece of free software Wikipedia uses, what they
>> use it for and why it's important. Someone might talk about PHP, then
>> pass over to someone to talk about MediaWiki, for example.
> What software does Wikipedia use?  I get as far as Mediawiki, which is
> PHP‐based, and I presume there’s a LAMP¹ stack in there somewhere, and
> lots more software running behind the scenes.
> ¹LAMP commonly refers to Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, but may more
> genericly refer to any GNU/Linux system with web server, database
> management system or other data storage, and programming language and/or
> framework for creating web applications.
> Simon
> --
> A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a
> simple system that works.—John Gall
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