Linux of the Rings

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Last month saw the launch of http://www.data.gov.uk web site not only built on Open Source Technology but designed to give UK-data back to the UK-people.

Number one amongst the endorsers was the most celebrated Knight and famous Wizard, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. In the same month both UK political parties restated their total commitment to Open Source software.

What is going on? What has happened to the forces of darkness?

To find out we must travel to Middle Earth once an Open Source paradise.....
....with sooo many apologies to JRR Tolkein:

In a particularly comfortable hole in the grassy banks of the Shire lived Stalbo Fossgins. Stalbo was a well to do comfortably rotund hobbit, and now as an elder he was comfortable with his respected situation too.

In the Eastern sky however, of recent times, there was a dark cloud which day by day seemed to grow and cast its shade across the Shire. Stalbo was concerned, the disc he carried strung by a cord around his neck was getting warmer as the sky grew darker...he knew what this meant; the power of the Dark Lord was growing again. Orcs had arrived assuring everyone that they were committed to an Open Shire but convinced no-one once they had patented the Creative Commons.

And so he was not surprised in the least when the Grey Wizard appeared at his door.

Stooping low Gandalf Berners-Lee bade Stalbo 'good morrow' in an affable and gentle greeting from within the hood of his cloak. All the time they were being observed at a discreet distance by dozens of excited young Hobbits who knew of the Wizard but only from the legends on Wikipedia.

But no sooner had the great wizard stepped across the Hobbit's threshold than did his expression turn grave, "Stalbo, you know what you must do".

Indeed he did, for the disc around his neck, which now felt hot to the touch, was in fact inscribed with the original MS-DOS, an ancient script so terrible that its legacy was felt by all in the Community.

"It must be cast into the fires of The Mount of Doom and be destroyed forever" said the wizard with a firm voice, or else the reborn curse Redmondor will overwhelm the whole of Middle Earth, the Dark Lord has returned, every bird in the sky tweets his coming.

Stalbo knew this was true, his heart was heavy but he would do what he must. The whole of Middle Earth owed a debt of gratitude to the Grey Wizard whose invention of a great web of light bathed them all in the warm sunshine and freedom of the Commons.

'I will go right now' said Stalbo and set off alone into the darkness, alone that is save for the watchful eyes of a strange pale creature, abandoned by man, hobbit and God, who whispered quietly to himself, "Hobbits always so polite, yes. O nice hobbits! Balmum brings them up secret ways that nobody else could find. Tired he is, thirsty he is, yes thirsty; and he guides them and he searches for paths, and they say sneak, sneak. Very nice friends, O yes my precious, very nice."

...years of trying to decipher the scripts of Redmondor had sent Balmum mad.

Deep into the black night swung a searing beam of light, the eye of Redmondor's Lord was searching for Stalbo and his precious burden. Stalbo meanwhile was travelling as swiftly as he could through the deep forest to join the immortal Elf-king Linus in his distant frozen land.

Watching too, was a ghostly Wraith who was gazing intently at the cracked screen of a magical glowing slate. On it he could see Stalbo's progress only too clearly. The image went as quickly as it had appeared, the spell only lasted for twenty minutes but it was enough.

He was once the greatest of Wizards but now he had crossed to that darker world.

Should he help Stalbo with his quest or destroy him? '

Just how powerful is the Grey Wizard?

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