NerdShift (formerly Wikinerds Portal) is the primary website of the Wikinerds Community, founded by Nikolaos S. Karastathis in 2004.

Interview with Hurd developer Marcus Brinkmann

Appeared on | Computer Science | Huge | Libre software | NSK excellency portfolio | Portal

Marcus Brinkmann is a free software developer currently working in the Hurd/L4 project, which aims to create a new operating system kernel by combining the Hurd with L4.

The Hurd is a set of servers running on top of a microkernel, and is part of the GNU Project. GNU code is usually included in every major GNU/Linux distribution.

Recently Marcus Brinkmann completed the process initialisation code of Hurd/L4, allowing software applications to be executed. In this interview Mr. Brinkmann explains how he learnt programming, how he got involved in the Hurd project, explains his views on software patents and the free software philosophy, presents the architecture of the Hurd, reveals the size of the Hurd codebase, talks about micro-kernels, answers questions about security and driver support and gives advice to new developers. Read the interview now!

Dave Ulmer's new book on ISSU: Beyond the Information Age

Computer Science | GFDL1.2 | Portal | Small

While I was researching how businesses could utilise telecommuting and telework to improve their efficiency, I was contacted by Dave Ulmer, the engineer who invented geocaching. He had an engineering project in the works that could greatly improve telework. He agreed to give me a copy of his new book under a CC licence, and I published it here as a free download. Click the 'read more' link to read my editorial and get the book.

Which is the most useful foreign language in the world, apart from English?

Human altruism may be hard-wired

Biology | GFDL1.2 | Portal | Tiny
BBC reports that, according to research results published on Science, altruism appears as an instinct in humans as young as 18 months, and is also observed on young chimpanzees, leading the researchers to suggest that this behaviour may have evolved 6 million years ago in a common ancestor.

Which was the first foreign language you learnt?

Introducting Nerdshift!

GFDL1.2 | Portal | Small

Wikinerds Portal is being re-launched with a new name: Nerdshift. The name rhymes with redshift, a phenomenon in astronomy, and symbolises our new mission: Shift people's attention from overspecialisation to general in-depth knowledge in every existing and emerging scientific field. Read full announcement on Wikinerds Blog.

Nerdshift,, and are unofficial/unregistered trade marks of Nikolaos S. Karastathis.

Wikinerds Portal assists in Drupal beta testing

GFDL1.2 | Portal | Tiny

We want your feedback over the next couple of hours as Wikinerds Portal helps the Drupal project in its beta-testing efforts. For more information please consult the relevant announcement on Wikinerds Blog. Feedback can be sent to nsk @ wikinerds . org (remove spaces). (note: the best testing has now finished since Wikinerds Portal was updated to Drupal 4.6.5 final).

Europe ready to claim frequencies for Galileo

CC-By-SA2 | Portal | Space | Tiny

According to BBC European Union is ready to claim the frequencies to be used by Galileo, its independent GPS-compatible global satellite positioning and navigation system. Under international agreements EU must claim the frequencies it needs for Galileo by launching a satellite and transmitting a signal in these frequencies by June 2006, otherwise the frequencies won't be granted to Europe. The first UK-built spacecraft is ready to be launched on 28 November, and a second spacecraft will be launched later as a back-up to ensure the correct transmission of the signal. The full Galileo satellite network is expected to be complete by 2010.

Rosa Parks dies

Human rights | Portal | Public Domain | Tiny

Rosa Parks, the woman who helped to give birth to the civil rights movement, died at the age of 92.

Wikipedia forms partnership with company producing closed-source software

GFDL1.2 | Libre software | Medium | Portal

Wikimedia Foundation Inc. and Answers Corporation announced that they will cooperate to enable desktop PC users easier access to Wikipedia. However, the deal has generated intense discussion in Wikipedia, and it seems that the software will not be free/open-source. Read more...

Florian Mueller in the EV50 European of the Year poll

GFDL1.2 | Intellectual rights | Libre software | Portal | Small | Society

Florian Mueller (Müller), who started the campaign in 2004, competes with politicians, business leaders, and others in the EV50 Europeans of the Year poll.

EV50 is a European publication of the Economist group and its Europeans of the Year poll is conducted over the Internet. Everyone is allowed to vote, including non-Europeans. The poll is broken down in the following categories:

  • Commissioner of the Year
  • MEP (Member of the European Parliament) of the Year
  • Statesman of the Year
  • Diplomat of the Year
  • Campaigner of the Year
  • Business Leader of the Year
  • Journalist of the Year
  • Achiever of the Year
  • Non-EU Citizen of the Year
  • European of the Year

In the Campaigner of the Year and the European of the Year categories you can see Mueller participating as "Florian Müller,".

In order to vote in the poll the user must choose a person in every category, and submit a name and a valid email address. An email is then sent to that address and if the user clicks on a link included in that message, their vote is counted in the poll. is an important campaign fighting against software patents in Europe. The winner of the EV50 poll will receive a prize which is sponsored by Microsoft Corporation, a backer of software patents. A press release of says that if Florian Mueller becomes the European of the Year, then the Microsoft-sponsored prize money will be donated to Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), which is instrumental in the struggle to maintain a patent-free software market in Europe. According to the press release, Richard Stallman, Tim O'Reilly, Alan Cox, Rasmus Lerdorf, and Monty Widenius endorse Florian Mueller's candidacy "because he runs on a NoSoftwarePatents ticket, and that is the message we want to reinforce". has published a how to vote guide for the users who wish to vote in the EV50 poll.

What is your level of involvement in FLOSS (free/libre open-source software)?

Analysis shows high percentage of voluntary responses in Drupal CMS support forum

GFDL1.2 | Libre software | Portal | Small

Drupal is a free/libre open-source Web-based content management system (CMS) which is used by Wikinerds Portal and many other sites wordwide. As with any CMS, the level of support one can get is very important. Recently a molecular biologist and member of the Drupal community, finished an analysis of the Drupal support forum which shows a very high percentage of responses to questions: 73.3% of posts on the forum get a response, and this is very important considering that it is done on a voluntary basis by members of the free software community and Drupal users who help each other for free, without any monetary reward. Of course, there are also professionals who work with Drupal and will be happy to provide guaranteed services to commercial enterprises that have special needs. According to the analysis of Mr. Knapen, the highest percentage of responses (80.1%) were found in the "pre-installation questions" forum and the lowest (68.8%) in "module development" (a module is a piece of software used in conjuction with Drupal to provide more features). While the analysis shows that the Drupal support community is very active, it should be noted that it only counted responses, not solutions. However, a high level of activity in a support forum is often related to support quality and number of solutions given. The Drupal community seems to be very active, whith frequent software releases and quick resolution of security bugs, while their CMS software is available under the GPL.

Mandaeans discriminated and tortured in Iraq by Islamist extremists

GFDL1.2 | Human rights | Portal | Tiny

BBC reports that Mandaeans are threatened in Iraq because Islamist extremists discriminate against them, torture them, and kill them, even mutilating their corpses, forcing them to convert to Islam and thus denying their basic human rights.

Mandaeans are about 50000 people who believe in Mandaenism and use the Mandaic language. Mandaenism is an ancient religion which focuses on John the Baptist, although it is much older, and it is classified as a Gnostic monotheistic religion (manda, a Mandaic word, means knowledge).

HRW claims that prisoners were not properly evacuated during Hurricane Katrina

GFDL1.2 | Human rights | Portal | Tiny

Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that a jail in New Orleans was not properly evacuated when Hurricane Katrina approached. As a result, according to HRW's researcher Corinne Carey, "Prisoners were abandoned in their cells without food or water for days as floodwaters rose toward the ceiling". The report posted on HRW's website says that many of the persons held at the jail had been arrested for trespassing, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, and other similar offences. Read the full report from HRW's website.

Physicists describe 7-dimension world

GFDL1.2 | Physics | Portal | Tiny

String theory physicists said that universe evolution favoured 3-dimension and 7-dimension worlds, and described the 7D sphere as having localised gravity which diminishes with distance so much that it has no planets with stable orbits. They noted that "The possibility of stable orbits is what makes the three-dimensional world more interesting".

Architeuthis observed in its natural habitat by Japanese scientists

Biology | GFDL1.2 | Portal | Tiny

Architeuthis, also known as "giant squid", was first observed in its natural habitat by Japanese scientists Tsunemi Kubodera and Kyoichi Mori in 2004. Now you can find details about their research, as well as photos showing a giant squid, online:

Nanowalker molecule opens the possibility of molecular computers

Engineering | GFDL1.2 | Portal | Small

A research team created and successfully tested a molecule which walks like a human in a straight line on flat surface. It gets its energy from supplied heat and can walk without the assistance of nano-rails. This would allow the creation of molecular computer memory in the future, a concept proposed in 1990s... Read more.

Getting a life sciences Ph.D.

GFDL1.2 | Portal | Science | Tiny
ArsTechnica published two very interesting articles by Science.Ars columnist Jonathan M. Gitlin which explain the difficulties and opportunities a life sciences Ph.D. student may face during their studies and in their postdoc position.

Do supernova shock waves produce cosmic rays?

GFDL1.2 | Portal | Small | Space

In 1572 Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe thought he saw a new star in the sky near the constellation of Cassiopeia, which we now know that it was a supernova. Recently astronomers announced that the behaviour of the shock wave produced by Tycho's Supernova cannot be explained by the standard theory. Their findings, based on observation of Tycho's Supernova Remnant by Chandra X-ray observatory, suggest that shock waves produced by sypernovae may be responsible for the creation of cosmic rays. Other astronomers have linked cosmic rays to supernovae in the past.

What Internet connection do you primarily use?

Unmoderated anonymous comments allowed (again)

General | CC-By-SA2 | GFDL1.2 | Portal | Tiny

In the past we were forced to moderate all anonymous comments because of spam. Now we installed an anti-spam system and we hope that it will do its job well, therefore we enabled unmoderated anonymous comments again. Any comment you make will now be published automatically. See also the relevant post on Wikinerds Blog. Please feel free to post comments in any story!

India briefed on Patriot and combat aircraft

CC-By-SA2 | Geopolitics | GFDL1.2 | Portal | Small

BBC reports that India was briefed by a US defence team on various US combar aircraft such as F-16, F/A-18, P3-C, as well as the anti-missile system MIM-104 Patriot (and specifically PAC-3, the most advanced and modern version which features an 8-round launcher and has the capability to launch missiles at a maximum speed of Mach 5), manufactured by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. Patriot systems are already used by many countries all over the world, including Greece, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Kuwait, Germany, and Japan. Readers of Wikinerds Portal may remember our earlier story about Pakistan and F-16.

Microsoft recruiter attempted to hire Eric S. Raymond

Business | CC-By-SA2 | GFDL1.2 | Information Technology | Medium | Portal

Microsoft recently employed a Gentoo Linux developer and the inventor of wikis, but now Microsoft's effort to assimilate the competition by hiring away its top talent has gone too far: Eric S. Raymond (ESR), the well-known open source advocate and vocal Microsoft critic, reports in his blog that he received an unexpected email from a Microsoft recruiter offering the prospect of a career at the largest closed-source producer in the world. ESR refused the offer and called himself the Microsoft's worst nightmare. Hiring talented individuals from rival firms and groups is a well-known business practice, but expecting major opensource hackers such as ESR to join Microsoft would be unrealistic. One has to wonder whether Microsoft will now attempt to hire Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds, or acquire Debian GNU/Linux... Read the full article!

GFDL license granted for all Wikinerds Portal articles written by NSK

General | GFDL1.2 | Portal | Tiny

Many articles published at Wikinerds Portal that were written by NSK before 8 September 2005 were available only under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 licence. Now, NSK would like to announce the grant of an additional GNU Free Documention Licence for CCL-licensed content he wrote; please read the full announcement. This means that you now have greater freedom if you wish to reuse any article authored by NSK. This does not apply to articles written by other authors.

We remind you that if you want to stay informed about any future announcements and changes, you should visit the Wikinerds Blog often.

How to install Vodafone 3G PCMCIA cards on SUSE 9.3 and Gentoo GNU/Linux

GFDL1.2 | Information Technology | Large | Other

Back in April 2005 we published a detailed guide explaining how to install Vodafone 3G laptop cards on a Fedora Linux. Now we publish another "how to" guide for the same card, which presents with great detail how to install it on SUSE 9.3 and Gentoo, two very popular GNU/Linux distributions. Vodafone 3G cards plug into your laptop through the PCMCIA interface and enable you to enjoy 384kbit wireless connections to the Internet via the cellular network. Read the HOWTO!

In which continent do you live?

FEMA website requires MSIE

GFDL1.2 | Information Technology | Portal | Small reports that FEMA website requires MSIE and JavaScript if users want to register, so if you use another web browser you will see a message like this: "In order to use this site, you must have JavaScript Enabled and Internet Explorer version 6. Download it from Microsoft or call FEMA to register", while ArsTechnica says that "Workers on the ground have told ArsTechnica that they would prefer to avoid setting up Windows XP workstations", and not surprisingly, considering that an unpatched Internet-connected WinXP PC can be compromised in minutes. We have seen similar stories in the past, while FSF recently took action to inform another .gov website that not everyone is using MSIE. One would think that FEMA as a federal agency should have the resources to design for Web standards.

Software Freedom Day, 10 September 2005

GFDL1.2 | Libre software | Portal | Tiny

Don't forget to participate in the Software Freedom Day on 10 September 2005!

Stichting NLnet supports GPLv3

GFDL1.2 | Libre software | Portal | Tiny

Stichting NLnet, a non-profit organisation from the Netherlands, donated 150000 Euro to support the GPL Version 3 Development and Publicity Project of Free Software Foundation (FSF) and FSF Europe.

GPL was originally written by Richard M. Stallman, the inventor of the copyleft concept, which today forms the basis of free software.

Read more in the official press release.