Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Open source in 2008: Everything but interest up

While 2008 has been a bleak year for the financial markets and the global economy, it has been very kind to open source, at least based on market share. A review of Net Applications data suggests that there has never been a better time for open source; however, as Google Trends data suggests, it's no longer enough to rest on one's open-source laurels.

  • Number of projects. In terms of sheer numbers of open-source projects, as well as traffic to those projects, open source was on a tear in 2008, with SourceForge alone increasing its hosted projects by 10 percent.
  • Browsers. Firefox has cracked 20 percent of the market, while Google Chrome has topped 1 percent. Internet Explorer has dropped month over month for nearly 12 straight months in 2008. As IE falls toward 50 percent market share we will, as Glyn Moody suggests, get a taste of real browser competition again.
  • Operating systems. Windows, too, has been on a slide, though at 89 percent of the market, it's hardly in a weak position right now. Linux and Mac have both gained at its expense, with the latter taking a real bite (over 1 percent) out of the Redmond giant. But for Mac and Linux, the real market to watch isn't the desktop, but rather the mobile (or nearly mobile) market, where Mac and Linux have real consumer advantages.
  • Commercialization. 2008 saw Red Hat and Novell Linux (and JBoss, in the case of Red Hat) revenue jump dramatically, as Sun also saw Open Storage and MySQL revenue climb significantly. But the real story may be in private data. My own company doubled its sales (again), while I know from conversations with executives at SugarCRM, MindTouch, JasperSoft, and other open-source vendors that their sales were on a tear, too. Separately, we're still talking about relatively small amounts of money (under $50 million), but collectively...? Commercial open source is coming into its own.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Seven Predictions for Open Source in 2009

2008 was an eventful, breakthrough year for many open source companies, and 2009 will be even more so, especially in terms of business purchasing patterns, software business model shifts, and enterprise software stack evolution. The current economic conditions will certainly prompt businesses to look more closely at alternative IT solutions -- and open source technology will be one of the big winners next year.

Here's a look at a few 2009 open source market predictions that I believe will re-shape the software market in the coming year.

  1. Adoption of open source software will increase as the economy worsens. As the 2008 recession extends into 2009, it will change the software landscape, as the economic "shock" forces businesses to make structural changes to their IT strategies to drive down costs. Open source software eliminates up-front licensing costs and drives down the total costs of new projects. It also introduces competition that will be used by customers to improve their negotiating position with the oligopoly of proprietary software vendors that dominate the market. Open source companies will see stronger year-over-year revenue growth than the proprietary software sector. Our company, Ingres, an open source database provider, recently announced that 2008 revenues will grow by more than 25 percent over 2007 versus traditional industry software growth rates at 7 to 8 percent annually. Growth rates for propriety vendors will take a hit despite moves by traditional companies like Oracle to actually raise prices during the economic downturn. The company's 45 percent increase on its BEA acquired-WebLogic application server, for instance, is causing customer migration to JBoss' open source enterprise application server.
  2. Open source adoption will accelerate across the full infrastructure software stack and into applications. As more companies seek innovative solutions that do more with less, they will follow the early adopters who 10 years ago pioneered the use of the Linux operating system and in recent years have been using open source throughout their infrastructure stack. Areas of significant infrastructure adoption include Application Servers, Messaging and Databases, especially for Java-based applications, which are standardized and relatively easy to port to open source solutions. At the application level, we'll see accelerating adoption of Business Intelligence (BI), Enterprise Content Management (ECM), and Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) solutions.
  3. SaaS and cloud computing solutions will grow and pull open source with it. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and open source share the same attractive economic model with lower overall costs and, critical for this recessionary environment, they both have zero up-front capital costs and variable operating costs. Companies will continue to move to subscription-based services that allow them to get a better handle on their IT costs. Moving to these pay-as-you-go services will also let executive teams re-size their technology budgets to adapt to current economic conditions, or to their company's changing revenue streams. Both SaaS and open source will see growth in new adoption. And SaaS growth will also pull more growth in open source as it delivers the right economics for the SaaS providers. As more companies integrate both forms of software into their internal IT systems, we'll see more customers push-back against yesterday's proprietary licensing models. Together, SaaS, cloud computing and open source offerings will also allow entrepreneurs to start new businesses with very little capital, even during a recession.
  4. Mergers and acquisitions of open source vendors will continue. M&A activities will continue to change the open source landscape as proprietary vendors acquire more open source companies, and as open source companies merge. In turn, these events will keep the investment cycles going, as recently witnessed by the late 2008 funding of companies including JasperSoft and Infobright, both raising $10 million during what is currently a nuclear winter in capital markets. We'll likely see the first open source application and/or open source Business Intelligence (BI) company get acquired. Red Hat and Sun may make acquisitions to further build-out their respective open source stacks, and Novell may use its cash from the Microsoft licensing deal to expand its open source footprint. Meanwhile, valuations will outpace industry averages but not reach the dizzying heights experienced during the last M&A wave in the mid-2000s.
  5. Competition from open source will drive proprietary software vendors to take the first steps in changing their business models. The combination of an "economic shock" to established procurement habits and the availability of mature and proven "commercial grade" open source software stacks will make 2009 the year in which open source competition drives proprietary vendors to begin changing their business models. Customers who are substantially downsizing their businesses will no longer accept the "ratchet model," where software costs only go up because of the negotiating leverage of the large vendors. Expect proprietary vendors to start realigning their business models to customer preferences, initially by emphasizing their own SaaS offerings while fighting a strong rear guard action to protect their much larger proprietary licensing and support revenues. Customers will respond to economic challenges with more centralized procurement and strategic adoption of open source, which will improve their negotiating position by demonstrating their willingness to implement open source alternatives for important applications.Open source stacks emerge from strong market partnerships. Open source vendors will continue to join forces to create whole open source stacks and to offer certified and pre-configured solutions that substantially reduce staffing costs. These partnerships will create a better way to compete with existing providers by offering easier implementation than combinations of products from proprietary software behemoths like IBM, Oracle and Microsoft. Customers will recognize and experience the cost benefits from hardware through software infrastructure right up to the application layers of their entire technology stack. For example, a Red Hat, JBoss, and Ingres stack will be available for Java application developers, and a competing Sun stack will be offered to existing Sun and MySQL customers. JasperSoft will partner with open source database providers to create a complete data mart solution to make business intelligence initiatives affordable for newly constrained budgets. These and many other partnership-driven open source stacks will provide competition and spur innovation that opens up important new choices in the software marketplace.
  6. Systems integrators will guarantee first-year cost savings for migrations to open source. Look for offerings from the many global systems integrators who have strong balance sheets, experience with open source and are wrestling with how to maintain growth over the next few years. Businesses that want to move to lower cost and variable cost platforms, but don't want to deal with first year capital costs to do so, will be offered a way through global systems integrators. These companies will use their balance sheets to pay for their customers' transition to open source as part of multi-year contracts to "migrate, innovate and operate". Systems integrators have the financial strength and pricing methodologies to propose fixed price multi-year contracts for migration and operations to their customers and in many cases to fund innovation as well. These offerings will cover a spectrum -- from migration to a fully managed service, to migrations followed by on-premise support and maintenance services.
Source :

Monday, December 29, 2008

Open source trends in 2009

Here's my pick of five trends in open source as we head into the new year. Let me know your thoughts.

There's been quite a few good posts recently on trends and observations around open source. Here's my quick take on five trends that I expect will become more significant in 2009.

More commercial open source
As Dave Rosenberg has deftly pointed out, open source has become more commercial with the traditional view that you could give away software and sell support now being supplanted. CIOs and CTOs are a pragmatic bunch, and they aren't going to pay for support just because vendors ask for it; they'll pay for things that add value to their operations. My personal view is that for any trend or technology to be sustainable, it needs to be commercial -- which leads to the next trend...

More experimentation with business models
While Red Hat has been successful with its enterprise subscription model, there are many variations in the industry. Companies like Alfresco, Pentaho, SugarCRM, and MySQL all have their own unique way of doing things. At MySQL, the core server is completely open source, but there are additional capabilities delivered as part of the subscription. Others, like Pentaho and SugarCRM, have closed source features in their enterprise product. I believe there will be more and more experimentation in business models in the next year as companies determine exactly what provides the right incentive or add value for users to become paying customers.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

The good news about open source, Cobol, and mobile jobs

In a bleak year, open source employment stayed relatively strong, as did the demand for Cobol skills

Journalists are often the bearers of bad news; it simply comes with the territory. And with the economy in the tank, there's no shortage of ugly stories to cover. So I'm always pleased when there's a legitimate bit of good news to write about. And counterintuitively enough, three of my columns this year contained good news about employment for techies, despite the downturn.

Open source jobs remain in good shape
In July, I looked at a report that showed that as many as 15 percent of the available IT jobs call for open-source skills. Although the report was written before the financial meltdown gathered steam, it still turned out to be a good indicator of the job market.

I know that because several months later, a careful look at the layoffs cascading though Silicon Valley showed that few of the job losses -- and there were many -- took place at companies primarily focused on open source.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

The future of open source

11 leaders outline the challenges and opportunities ahead

There's no question that the open source community is a passionate one -- and one with significant influence on technology directions and options. We're way past the days when people asked if Linux or Apache was safe to depend on in business. Open source is now a mainstream part of the technology fabric.

Yet it remains connected to its roots around a passionate community working together to solve problems and share the fruits of their labors with others. Any endeavor based in community is bound to spark passionate debate. After all, without contention, how else to determine the best way forward?

Since its emergence, open source has embodied this spirit. Part defiant, part self-reliant, and often outspoken and opinionated, those immersed in the community have worked both in tandem and at odds, all with the intention of pushing the movement in as many worthwhile directions at once.

It's so worthwhile that the drumbeat of business can now be heard in nearly every corner of community, drawing the attention of vendors and capitalists alike. And with greater attention and potential has come a measure of added strife. Questions of selling out and just desserts surface more frequently, yet not to the jeopardy of the endeavor, as the code keeps proliferating, thanks to those who participate.

Given the increased reliance on open source by users and commercial vendors, as well as by the commercialization of some open source projects, InfoWorld spoke with 11 thought leaders in a roundtable discussion about the current open source climate to uncover the most vibrant themes and conflicts shaping open source today.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Search for an Open Source Killer App for Web 2.0

The rise of Web 2.0, Software as a Service and cloud platforms has been a boon for open source software products and projects. Ongoing innovations are expanding the role of OSS in enterprises as well as individual users.

A quiet battle of sorts is taking place behind the scenes in the software industry. Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud computing Consolidate Mac Servers. Run Windows Server on your Mac. Watch a Demo or Download a Trial. have evolved, placing much more attention on Web-based applications.

This greater focus has also raised expectations for the services delivered via Web 2.0. The open source Linux MPS Pro Focus on Your Business — Not Your IT Infrastructure. Latest News about open source software community has responded to this growing demand for a software-driven Internet by building some of the leading Web apps available.

"I'm seeing more innovation in open source in this area. I'm not seeing closed source developers getting into this. Instead, they are relying on Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Latest News about Microsoft and [other] proprietary developers," Aaron Fulkerson, cofounder and CEO of MindTouch, told LinuxInsider.

This technology from open source developers will encourage the next wave of innovation for the Web, he noted.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Red Hat’s open source model thriving in downturn

While some might argue that it’s too early to call, Red Hat’s open source model seems to be paying dividends despite the soft economic climate. Could penny-pinching managers looking for cheap solutions be a boon to the open source industry?

Red Hats revenue grew 22 percent to $165.3 million in the third quarter over the same period last year. This resulted in net income of 24 cents per share which beat Analysts’ expectations of 18 cents a share.

In fact, Red Hat’s position was solid enough that it took the opportunity to repurchase six percent of its outstanding shares, strengthening its position by approximately $11 million. The company is planning to continue buying up stock to shore up the company’s resistance to the recession.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst find that in a, budget-constrained environment, IT professionals are adopting open source and more specifically Red Hat to save money and enhance their competitiveness.” By building their operating system on code contributed by the open source community, Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux is a more cost effective server than proprietary alternatives.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Microsoft reverses course, becomes more open to open-source community

When Microsoft Corp. bought Powerset Inc. in July, it acquired more than just search engine technology. It also became the owner of open-source code that was -- and still is -- being contributed to the Apache Software Foundation's Hadoop project.

Having open-source technology in a product was a first for Microsoft, said Robert Duffner, a senior director in the company's platform strategy group. Also in July, Microsoft began providing internally developed code to an open-source project called ADOdb, which produces a database abstraction library for the PHP and Python scripting languages.

Via such moves, the platform strategy unit is pushing the software vendor not only to accept that its products need to interoperate with open-source technology, but also to view the latter as beneficial to its business goals.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

What Oracle stands to gain from open source

On Thursday Oracle, one of the strongest enterprise software vendors, reported weak earnings, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Most troubling is Oracle's first year-on-year decline in new software sales in five years, with license revenue falling by 3 percent from 2007.

Some of Oracle's struggles relate to a strengthening dollar, as CNET suggests. But with more than half of its revenues coming from maintenance, Oracle needs to forage for new customers paying for new license deals, rather than simply consolidating the industry to buy its way into new customers.

In short, Oracle needs to expand its open-source strategy.

By this I'm not referring to Oracle's work with open-source projects. Though I've harshly criticized Oracle on this score in the past, Oracle contributes significant resources to advance a range of open-source projects, as it details in its "Oracle Corporate Citizenship Report 2008" (PDF):

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Linux Year in Review: Sun's Very Big Buy

Rounding up the top stories in the open source world starts with one very big deal.

Some might argue it was a middling year of news about open source and the Linux operating system. Whatever the sentiment, 2008 proved another year of solid growth and new releases for open source and Linux vendors.

In our week-plus look at the top stories, trends and themes of 2008, we pause to look at how some of them played out with vendors and end-users.

Sun Buys MySQL

Sun's $1 billion acquisition of open source database vendor MySQL was one of the biggest open source stories of the year. The deal, announced in January, closed just over a month later on February 26th.

The deal put MySQL at the forefront of Sun's database plans, shaking up its relationship with the open source PostgreSQL database and losing their PostgreSQL lead.

The acquisition also inspired some closed source hysteria when Sun pre-announced the release of MySQL 5.1 in April. As it turns out, MySQL 5.1 was substantially delayed and did not get released until December.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Begining of a New Era for Open Source Software...OpenSUSE 11.1

Ah...the x-men comes out to play. Seeker, jonath and bugmenot2.

Seeker, I seek not to "state" anything. I am just trying to get the message across to many other net users that are a lot
less savvy than you that the latest exploit in Internet Explorer have simply made using the software a game of Russian Roulette on the highways of the net. Especially if you use internet banking.

I find it diificult to understand why you are so staunchly defending the use of Internet Explorer when we both know that the latest vulnerabilities are not the usual second tuesday "patch" cycle issue. Microsoft itself has advised people NOT to use Internet Explorer for secure web surfing until this is fixed.

Let me ask you a question. Are you using Internet Explorer with the current vulnerabilities unpatched in full administrator mode surfing the net at random and then using the same machine and administrator user account to do internet banking with your whole life savings in the balance?

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Open source isn't free software

There's a long standing argument over the differences between "open-source" software and "free" software. But, a more common error outside of software ideology circles is that you can use open-source software anyway you please. Nope. Wrong. It's never been that way.

Cisco, the networking giant, should know better than this, but they've worn out the FSF's (Free Software Foundation) patience. So, Cisco is now being sued by the SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center) on behalf of the FSF for Linux and other GPL copyright violations.

You see, Cisco, like many other networking companies use Linux, and other free software programs like GCC, binutils, and the GNU C Library in their products. Specifically, Cisco uses these programs in its Linksys line. In fact, the FSF first brought Cisco's improper use of open-source code to the company's attention back in 2004 with its use in the Linksys WRT54G wireless router.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Adobe learns lessons of open-source Flex

Adobe Systems is learning the challenges and complexities of taking its software open source.

Just a year and a half after Adobe released its Flex Software Development Kit (SDK) under the Mozilla Public License (MPL) to encourage developer buy in, it's the company - not the community - that continues to shoulder the burden of building and fixing Flex.

The majority of Flex committers are Adobe employees with most contributions from outsiders tackling bugs rather than going into new feature ideas.

Adobe, meanwhile, is treading a fine line between tipping off competitors to its Flex plans through the open-source work while coaxing the community to buy into the Flex roadmap.

When it announced it was open sourcing Flex in April 2007, Adobe called the move a way of collaborating with the developer community to "further fuel its momentum and innovation." Flex is one of many Adobe's code to go open-source, following - among others - Tamarin and BlazeDS. The main prize, Flash Player, remains closed.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Can Open Source Help the Economy?

In the last major economic downturn, Linux established itself as a widely-accepted enterprise operating system, benefiting a lively ecosystem of vendors such as Red Hat and Novell. The return of tough economic times puts the open source alternative again front and center, this time with focus on databases and higher-level software applications.

I believe we've entered another era for open-source companies of all stripes. IT decision makers need to fight the financial crisis and they need a more efficient solution for critical enterprise system and IT needs.

As IT costs grow and the economic crisis puts pressure on global IT budgets, open source becomes irresistibly attractive to developers and IT decision makers who are being asked to do more with a whole lot less. Meanwhile, proprietary vendors react by increasing license fees by 15 percent to 45 percent, they continue to lock-in their customers, and they take away independence regarding choice and flexibility across the enterprise technology infrastructure.

That's why open-source solutions are more attractive than ever.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Open source in a closed market

In a truly open market the battle to set new mobile standards would be fairly clear.

It’s not, because this is not an open market.

In an open market we could await the Microsoft Zune phone, a host of Android kit, whatever LiMo and Symbian decide to come up with, along with RIM and Blackberry devices running on the networks of our choice.

In an open market this would sort itself out in Internet time. Equipment makers might mix-and-match features among the various open source offerings.

I personally don’t think closed source would stand much of a chance in the long run, although I would enjoy being proven wrong

But the mobile market is a cartel, a very small one.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Microsoft plans more open source outreach

In 2009, Microsoft will continue its gradual acceptance of open source software while at the same time it works to dispel old prejudices against non-proprietary software from within the company.

Part of that acceptance will mean more work with open source project groups, according to Robert Duffner, the director of platform strategy at Microsoft, In October, Microsoft joined the Advanced Messaging Protocol (AMQP) working group, an open source project which originated at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. as a means of developing a standard for high-speed messaging.

Microsoft will also pick up its activity in the Apache QPID project, which it also joined this fall. QPID is a messaging implementation built on AMQP. Microsoft became a sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation in July.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sun Bets Big on 'Open-Source Storage' Market

Building on 25 years of open system innovation and leadership, Sun announced its first open storage product line - 'Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems' radically simplifying the way enterprises manage their storage with breakthrough cost savings, speed and scale. "This new innovative product line is part of Sun's Open Storage business - the business that grew more than 100% this past quarter," informed Jagannath A.L, GM-Marketing, Sun Microsystems India. With more than 7.7 lakh developers from India being part of Sun Developer Network, the vendor expects to see tremendous open source community growth from India in near future. "Sun is the only vendor open sourcing storage software, with a choice of operating systems, middleware, and devices on extremely scalable, modular hardware to meet industry needs. These eco-friendly storage solutions help enterprises store more data in less space, manage more with fewer people, protect their investments and reduce their environmental impact,"he said.

Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems offers comprehensive data services at no extra cost, such as snap/clone, restore, mirroring, RAID-5, RAID-6, replication, thin provisioning, iSCSI and other features. As per Jagannath, a major shift occurring in storage marketplace that will change buying trends of storage. "Similar to server/Linux movement a decade ago, the storage industry is going through a similar shift (open source software on industry standard hardware) that will transform the US$40B proprietary storage market. Sun is leading the charge, and we believe customers, small to large will be interested in our technologies providing market differentiation, solid performance, easier set-up/management and lower costs,"he said.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Linux, Open Source Get Patent Protection Program

The sponsors hope the program will ultimately promote their goals of greater freedom in the open source community to expand the Linux platform.

Open Invention Network (OIN) unveiled a program Tuesday that aims to make it easier for patent and trademark office examiners -- and others -- to access prior art, increase the quality of patents granted, and decrease the number of poor quality patents.

The Linux Defenders program, sponsored by the Software Freedom Law Center and the Linux Foundation, is designed to address intellectual property concerns about meritless patents for the Linux and open source community. The program solicits prior art to help invalidate and reject poor quality patent applications and patents, while encouraging high quality inventions and defensive applications.

"Linux Defenders offers the Linux and broader open source community a unique opportunity to harness its collaborative passion, intelligence, and ingenuity to ensure Linux's natural migration to mobile devices and computing," Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN, said in a statement released Tuesday. "This landmark program will benefit open source innovation by significantly reducing the number of poor quality patents that might otherwise be used by patent trolls or strategists whose behaviors and business models are antithetical to true innovation and are thus threatened by Linux."

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Survey Highlights Open Source Perceptions, Pitfalls

Chances are, your IT shop uses open source software (OSS). Indeed, the overwhelming majority of enterprises use OSS in some part of their organization -- and therein lies the problem. If you do use OSS, market watcher Gartner Inc. recommends you have an official OSS policy. But a surprising number of open source adopters are operating without one.

Eighty-five percent of respondents to a recent Gartner survey report they've adopted open source solutions. Of these, more than two-thirds (69 percent) say they haven't yet implemented policies for formally evaluating or cataloguing the use of open source assets in their environments. One upshot, the consulting firm warned, is that adopters that haven't codified official OSS policies are leaving themselves exposed to intellectual-property (IP) infringement violations.

"Just because something is free, doesn't mean that it has no cost," said Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner, in a statement. "Companies must have a policy for procuring OSS, deciding which applications will be supported by OSS and identifying the intellectual property risk or supportability risk associated with using OSS. Once a policy is in place, then there must be a governance process to enforce it."

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cost-Conscious Companies Turn to Open Source Software

he now-official recession has hit many corporations hard in the wallets, and that's being reflected in IT budgets. With fewer dollars to work with, IT managers are increasingly turning to open source software to get the job done.

After the tech bubble burst, E*Trade's (NYSE: ET) Latest News about E*Trade technology chief, Lee Thompson, needed to find a way to do more with less. In 2001 and 2002, the online stock trading company shrank its tech budget by one-third. "We had to go through and figure out every penny that we were spending and make alternatives to reduce those costs," says Thompson, vice-president and chief technologist of E*Trade. So he began using software that can be downloaded at no cost via the Internet. By the end of 2002, he was saving US$13 million a year thanks to use of these freely available applications known as open source Linux MPS Pro Focus on Your Business — Not Your IT Infrastructure. Latest News about open source software.

It's 2001 all over again. With the economy in a tailspin, companies once again are under pressure to cut IT costs. Tech spending may contract 0.9 percent in 2009, according to market researcher IDC. The end of 2008 looks particularly bleak, according to an October survey by ChangeWave Research, which noted the sharpest decline for corporate software on record. About 40 percent of the 1,841 corporate software purchasers surveyed said their companies would spend less on software in the coming 90 days.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Asian-African countries committed to using open source software

Jakarta, (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and other countries in Asia and Africa are determined to strengthen their commitment to using Open Source (OS) software instead of licensed software which was mostly being monopolized by big companies, a research and technology official said.

The resolve to use OS software would also be reaffirmed in an Asia-Africa Conference on Open Source (AAOS) to be held November 18 to 19, 2008 in Jakarta, Prof Dr Engkos Koswara, a senior advisor to the research and technology minister, said here Thursday.

"Twelve countries including South Africa, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Iran, Japan, Austria, the US and Germany have confirmed their participation in the conference. The participants themselves will have different professional backgrounds as they are academics, observers, members of the OS community," he said.

Among the foreign participants in AAOS would be Jaijit Bhattacharya from Sun Microsystem India, Aslam Raffee from South Africa's Science and Technology Department, Van Hoai Tran from Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology of Vietnam, and Kazuhiro Oki from the Center of the International Cooperation for Computerization.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Linux powered Yoggie goes open source

Yoggie Security Systems has today released the source code for its Linux-based mini-security computers to the developer community, and aims to release the source code to most of the applications on the Yoggie Gatekeeper system in due course.

The Yoggie Gatekeeper Card already caused quite a stir when it became the first computer designed to be installed inside another computer for security purposes

The more familiar product, however, remains the tiny USB key sized device. The Gatekeeper Pico is actually a Linux-based mini-computer that offloads the security requirement from the host computer courtesy of its built-in security applications.

These include firewall, intrusion detections, anti-virus, anti-spam and multi-layer security agents. Now, with the release of the Open Firewall PicoT, it has morphed into an open source hardware firewall.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Taking productivity lessons from open source

Even if your organization doesn’t produce software or work with open source development, you can still take some lessons from open source communities — in particular, how to get work done with fewer meetings and less real-time.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols covers some of the things that outsourcing companies can learn from open source, but this really applies to any organization — whether it has remote locations or not. But they’re particularly useful for organizations with a distributed workforce with non-English speakers. In particular:

  • Don’t have a meeting when an email will do. Coordinating schedules is an often unnecessary headache when an email exchange would provide the same information.
  • Any method with an “audit trail” is better than a phone call or face to face meeting for those who may need to catch up later. (It’s also far better for remembering who has what action items, and what has been decided.”
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is Sun open source storage play too late?

Sun has laid the hammer down in enterprise storage, with an “open source” offering that really does pass the savings on to the customer, as they must be passed.

Enterprise storage costs more than what you have in your home. My son is a gamer who has 850 Gigabytes of storage. The low end of the new Sun line is 2 terabytes for about $11,000. I’m certain the Sun price is worth it.

As Larry Dignan notes, Sun hopes open source developers will rally round the flag, boosting storage sales from $25 million to a hefty share of its $3 billion total revenue base.

But as ZDNet also noted yesterday, it may be too late. Sun had to take enormous writedowns in the last quarter, posting an eye-popping $1.67 billion loss.

What really makes a downturn like the present one brutal is its ruthlessness. If companies fear doing business with banks that are on the brink (despite insured deposits) how you think they like dealing with vendors suffering the same perception?

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Microsoft 'Not Against' Open Source

The division between proprietary software vendors and open-source providers is not as clear as some industry players perceive it to be. As more enterprises consider adopting open source technologies, even traditional software vendors such as Microsoft have taken steps in responding to such customer needs.

"Open source is not a product but an approach to software development," said Matthew Hardman, platform strategy manager at Microsoft Singapore. "Microsoft does not compete with open source, just as Nike does not compete with running."

Hardman said the software giant seeks to provide the 'best possible platform' for open source applications to run. "We believe that enterprises and vendors should have a choice of software development methodology, and open source is one such choice."

The platform strategy manager noted however, that Microsoft will compete with open source-based providers, just as it also competes with other proprietary vendors.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Open source technology casts new perspective on China's development

A senior official of a world leading IT company said recently that open source technology stands as a significant opportunity for China's development.

Crawford Beveridge, vice president of Sun Microsystems Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA), said that open source software, the source of which can be used, modified and published by public, and other open IT standards are cheaper, more stable and flexible and are new ways to ensure local and sustained growth.

Its characteristic of openness can prompt the creation of indigenous innovative companies, regardless of macroeconomic or other international challenge, Beveridge said.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Open source begins to beat brand in business

OPEN source software, which holds a central place with computer programming enthusiasts who oppose proprietary control over software code, has quietly been winning recognition in Australia's enterprise sector.

Surveys of Australian open source development companies indicate that the software, which is developed co-operatively under non-proprietary licensing schemes, supports an industry worth $500 million and is becoming better understood.

Marc Englaro, general manager of open source software company Fonality, said companies had developed a good grasp of the open source model.

"Three years ago there would have been expectations that open source meant free, whereas now open source means more cost-effective but not necessarily free," he said.

Technology managers no longer were so anxious about using open source software in preference to proprietary systems, he said.

"The fundamentals of whether you're an established organization with a track record apply whether you're open-source or not, but the fact that you use open source doesn't on its own carry a negative connotation," Mr Englaro said.

Earlier this year, open-source software consultancy Waugh Partners surveyed 129 companies ranging from multinationals to small enterprises and found that the group generated about $500 million from open source activity.

More than half that revenue was directly generated from working with open source software, Waugh Partners found.

Read More Article...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Open source - it's all about choice

There have always been people in society who help others just because they can - the cub scout leader, the charity volunteer, the community clean up group, they all contribute to making the world a better place.

The same thing happens in the world of technology. It's called the Open Source movement, and it's a growing influence on the way we all use computers.

The internet has helped shape this community and it has had nearly 30 years to mature. Its foundation was in the counter culture of the late sixties and seventies in American colleges such as MIT.

If there was a computer, then people would play around to see what was possible. If they produced something clever they would share it.

From this grew the idea that ideas should be freely available and that writing software was another form of self expression . This only grew faster as home computers became available and faster still as the internet evolved and communication of ideas and source code became easier.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

An idiot's view of open source

If he wasn't so utterly wrong and, it appears that he's taken seriously, Andrew Keen's delusion that the economy is about to "Give Open-Source a Good Thumping" would be funny.

Keen, author of the book, Cult of the Amateur: How the Internet is killing our culture, argues that "One of the very few positive consequences of the current financial miasma will be a sharp cultural shift in our attitude toward the economic value of our labor. Mass unemployment and a deep economic recession comprise the most effective antidote to the Utopian ideals of open-source radicals."

Therefore, "Historians will look back at the open-source mania between 2000 and 2008 with a mixture of incredulity and amusement. How could tens of thousands of people have donated their knowledge to Wikipedia or the blogosphere for free? What was it about the Internet that made so many of us irrational about our economic value?"

The problem with his argument is simple: it's a straw-man argument. There are almost no open-source radicals, and of those, few, if any, are working for free.

Read More Article...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Open source Linux worth billions, Microsoft warned

Can Microsoft compete with an billion dollar open source project which benefits from widespread collaboration?

A new study claimed that the development of the Linux Fedora 9 operating system would cost $10.8 billion (£6.3 billion) to build, and that Microsoft’s software monopoly could disappear.

The value was measured by the Linux Foundation using today’s software development costs, with an estimated cost of $1.4 billion (£0.8 billion) for the Linux kernel alone.

The Foundation said that since it began in 1991, Linux has become a computing force with a $25 billion (£14.7 billion) ecosystem, powering devices from mobile phones to supercomputers.

Report authors Amanda McPherson, Brian Proffitt and Ron Hale-Evans said that the open nature of the Linux operating system benefited from its collaborative nature which meant that one company did not need to have responsibility for its development or support.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Free software offers cheaper long distance calls

Panaji: Free software and open source solutions offer a huge potential to link your computer to the mobile phone and the inexpensive Skype networks - that allows you to make international calls over the Internet - and for sending out SMSes too.

This could help significantly narrow the digital divide "at the social level between rich and poor and geographical levels, between city and village," says Giovanni Maruzzelli, an Italian expert in the field currently touring India.

The Italian techie has held meetings at IIT-Madras, at Auroville, and at Mumbai, and now is scheduled to speak in Goa and Hyderabad.

Maruzzelli is the man behind the project, that works with Internet telephony, computers, sound cards and mobile phones -- bringing all together in amazing ways.

Celliax uses second-hand, recycled and cheap cellphones as interfaces between VoIP and the GSM networks.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Open source software proves affordable, flexible for NIH, DoD

Ten years ago, engineers at the National Institutes of Health decided to bundle together a bunch of regular computers in order to create a supercomputing capability. The result proved successful and has grown since, enabling scientists to run large-scale computational experiments that would otherwise be impossible, such as processing thousands of DNA sequences or running six-month-long molecular simulations to study cell processes.

These simulations allow scientists to examine things that cannot be measured in a lab — for instance, how molecules permeate a cell membrane or how a drug interacts with a protein.

This system, known as Biowulf, has 6,500 processors communicating over a fast network and 8,800 gigabytes of memory. It would have cost the agency millions of dollars to buy enough software to make such a supercomputer possible. But the designers who built Biowulf in 1999 decided to use open source software, much of which can be obtained free.

“It has grown and grown since 1999, and we were able to do it in part because the software costs are almost zero,” said Steven Fellini, a systems specialist for NIH.

Unlike proprietary software, open source software programs allow users to access the source code to modify as they see fit. Though not all open source software is free, the licenses for open source products must allow users to distribute the program. Open source licenses also need to be technology-neutral and run without interfering with other software.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fear what? The success of open source?

Mary Jo Foley's recent column "Open-source backers: Are you afraid?" gets it all wrong.
The suggestion that big companies pose a threat to open source misses the big picture, focusing instead on a worn-out generality that positions Microsoft Corp.'s competitors against the open-source movement in a way Bill Gates himself would envy.

Big companies such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard have a very simple business motivation for backing open-source software: lower total cost of ownership for their hardware platforms.

Each of these companies makes its living selling hardware. Inexpensive, high-quality software increases their value proposition. And, of course, a Linux/Intel combo undoubtedly represents a very reasonable license structure compared with their NT/Intel offerings. It really is that simple.

Let's get real about what IBM is up to. Do you really think IBM is ballyhooing Linux and spending big-time bucks to "garner positive press?"

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Open source is about belief in code

You can read stories about doom and depression somewhere else today.

Instead I want you to look across the headlines to the other side of the chasm.

There is something there that does not exist in the proprietary wreckage, something important. Code.

Even if an open source enterprise should go belly-up its code should survive. That code can be enhanced, it can be forked, it can be turned into another business, perhaps with another business model, down the road.

The code will be there because those who forged both the FOSS and open source movements believed first in what they could do for code, and only second in what code could do for them.

Read More Article..

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Red Hat: Economic crisis to boost open source

The global economic crisis would provide a boost for open-source software, Red Hat Chief Executive Jim Whitehurst claimed during a visit to Sydney this week.

Whitehurst, who stopped over down under as part of a tour of the Asia-Pacific region, said in an interview with ZDNet Australia that the crisis would cause companies to consolidate their technology infrastructure and reduce spending.

"So the bad news is, when things get tight, people stop investing as much in the future," he said. "I would expect to see a slowdown in spending for new functionality." However, the CEO said this would cause more companies to consider open-source software as an option.

"What I do know is that open source will be in much better shape, coming out of the financial crisis than going into it, relative to our propriety competitors," he said.

Whitehurst said this is because open-source software provides a better economic model for creating software.

However, Kevin McIsaac, a Sydney-based analyst for Intelligent Business Research Services, said he does not expect the trend to increase the market share of companies such as Red Hat.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nine Attitude Problems in Free and Open Source Software

I love free and open source software (FOSS). The cause -- essentially, an extension of free speech -- is one that I can get behind as a writer, and community members are not only brilliant but both passionate and practical at the same time. It's an exciting field, and the one in which I've chosen to make a career.

At times, though, the community can be its own worst enemy. Certain attitudes, often long-ingrained, make the community less united than it should be, and work against common goals, such as providing an alternative to proprietary software or spreading the FOSS gospel. Practically everyone in the community has been guilty of one or more of these attitudes at some time or other -- including me -- but we rarely talk about them. And, for this reason, the attitudes continue, hobbling community efforts.

Admitting these attitude problems seems the first step to overcoming them, so here are nine of the most common ones I've observed both in myself and in the community around me:

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Open Source Business: Model or Tactic?

ReadWriteWeb points readers to a report released by the 451 Group stating that open source is not a true business model, but more of a "business tactic."

Traditionally, the "open source business model" is perceived as "free/open software, with paid support and configuration services." The report found, however, that many of the responding open source businesses incorporate some commercially licensed software in their product line. It also found that the "paid support/free software" idea -- while theoretically, at least, valid -- is multi-layered, complex, and highly variable between software product, software company, and industry.

The research included 114 open source vendors, including Red Hat, Alfresco, IBM and Oracle. Of all the vendors studied, 70% offered support services, but less than 8% called their support services their primary revenue stream. The 451 Group stated that they realized the inclusion of "proprietary vendors" (as opposed to the broader definition of "vendor," which could include those making open code available on a mirror) would possibly skew the results, so the research centered mainly on businesses specializing in open source.

It's not surprising that these vendors, which vary in size and customer base, use different methods to keep themselves afloat. It's not terribly surprising that licensing weighs heavily on how development, support, and revenue-generation strategies are formulated.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Apple closes open-source flaws with latest patch

Apple plugged on Friday at least 40 security holes affecting its Mac OS X operating system, releasing a patch to upgrade the software and install new security certificates.

The vast majority of the vulnerabilities affect the open-source components of the Mac OS X, including the MySQL database server, the PHP dynamic Web language, the Tomcat Java server, the Apache Web server and the vim text editor. The patch -- Apple's seventh major fix for Mac OS X this year -- closes 25 vulnerabilities in those applications, some of which are shipped only with the Apple's server products. Other vulnerabilities also affected the open-source ClamAV antivirus software, Postfix mail software, and CUPS printing software, according to the company's advisory.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Open source's usability challenge

The iPhone has been out for a year, and known about in detail for considerably longer. Yet the very latest crop of state-of-the-art Windows Mobile phones, clearly designed as head-on competitors to that phone, miss the mark by miles.

They all have the same feature list -- indeed, they capitalise on the many aspects of the iPhone that are well below par -- but they all feel cruder and more frustrating to use. You can't just bolt this stuff on.

Usability is extremely important. It's also very hard to do well and requires extreme corporate self-discipline. If you ever find yourself asking which of Apple and Microsoft has the more effective management, compare their products. Unless an engineer knows with total clarity that their part of the project will be thrown back for failing to meet usability standards, then the urge to cut a corner or half-bake a feature can be irresistible. Functionality is easy to specify and test: usability far less so.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Apple Updates to Fix Open Source Security Issues

Latest Apple security fix list tackles at least 15 flaws that could leave Mac users at risk.

Though Apple's Mac OS X operating system itself is not open source, it does include many components that are -- which also means that it's potentially susceptible to the same vulnerabilities that have affect open source projects.

As a result, open source applications in particular are strongly represented on the list of patched items in Apple's latest security update, 2008-007.

Among the open source applications patched in the update is the Apache Web server. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is updating Mac users to Apache HTTP version 2.29 from the 2.28 version that had potential Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) issues.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why Open Source is hot now?

With the deepening of the credit crisis, melt down in the financial industry, the IT budgets in the big companies is under squeeze.

Companies are looking at optimizing their IT budgets and seriously looking at Return on their investments. The commercial software license costs; be in hardware, operating system, infrastructure, database, commercial applications and consulting & support, is being reviewed and seriously considered for optimizing and cost cutting.

Open source software and solutions have a great opportunity to survive and benefit in this economy as they provide better returns for the companies that are looking to save huge licensing costs and greater availability of solutions and software that can be easily adopted.

Open source software and solutions have matured over years and a bigger community to support them. There are several solutions from multiple vendors for business problems and substantially less expensive compared to commercial software from the proprietary software companies.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The spread of Open Source

BANGALORE, INDIA: Technologies based on the open source platform are increasing in adoption today. Acceptance of open source has spread in varied areas such as web server, collaboration, messaging and virtualization to name a few. In India too, open source is growing rapidly and there are many enthusiasts who are coming out and embracing the technology. In an interview with CIOL, Santhosh D'Souza, Chief Technologist, Sun Microsystems, India, gives an insight on the growing trends of open source, Sun's involvement to promote open source and the latest offerings it has to offer based on the open source platform.

Excerpts of the interview.

Read More Article...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Open Source Census Finds FOSS Everywhere

The Open Source Census, which I mentioned back in April, just dropped a press release this morning about the data it's been collecting. I chatted the day before with Kim Weins, senior VP of OpenLogic, a key co-sponsor of the census, and how they found a few ... surprises in the results.

Well, maybe they won't be total surprises to people who're intimately involved with the business and culture of open source, but I imagine they'll still raise a few eyebrows. For starters, there is quite a lot of open source software, of all stripes, being deployed on Windows machines.

This includes software deployed as an escape from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) (OpenOffice, etc.), packages used as support or infrastructure tools (zlib, OpenSSL, Perl, Samba), and things that have their own legacy as well -- like Firefox, which appeared on a whopping 84% of the systems surveyed. The vast majority of the top 20 or so packages also appeared on both Windows and Linux systems, so a good deal of what's being used is platform-agnostic.

Another revelation, which probably comes as a surprise only if you haven't been following open source news: Open source adoption in Europe far outpaces that of the United States. I chalked that up to two things: 1) a larger governmental role for open source adoption in Europe, and 2) less existing fidelity toward Microsoft by default there. "Governments and financial service companies" were the biggest leaders as far as use of open source packages, but a chunk who identified themselves as "Other" or "All Others" made up nearly half right there.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Open source can still win in a down economy

I was meeting with venture investors the last few days and it's clear that the impact of the credit crisis and the overall bleak economic outlook has people really freaked out. Rightly so, but it's times like these where smart investors invest in early-stage ideas that will take a few years to mature.

And, while it's clear that spending will slow a bit in the technology sector, there is less risk then there was in the last meltdown where everyone was over-invested in technology. That doesn't mean we won't be impacted, just that the nuclear winter in financial services probably won't effect tech as much as it did circa 2001 when every startup failed and big companies lost billions.

Open source consumption did really well during the last economic downturn. In this downturn, open source offers the best value for money and with more mature supported products, enterprises can continue to innovate while budgets are frozen.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

How not to get sued by open source coders

A Fasken Martineau DuMoulin lawyer says many firms do not teach workers how to manage open source software. CIPPIC weighs in

A recent ruling by the U.S. Federal Appeals Court, stipulating that open source licenses are subject to copyright laws, will mean that businesses will have to exercise added due diligence when integrating open source code in the products they develop, according to legal experts.

The ruling stems from a claim of copyright infringement by an open source developer whose code was distributed through the open source Artistic License, and claims that those license requirements were not met by a company that incorporated that code into its product.

The court subsequently ruled that copyright holders "who engage in open-source licensing have the right to control the modification and distribution of copyrighted material.”

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Are Microsoft's open-source actions enough?

While Microsoft Corp. realizes there is greater benefit to collaborating with the open source community from an interoperability perspective, it may prove difficult to change its pro-proprietary image, said an open source analyst.

Microsoft was a company focused on intellectual property claims where "not more than two years ago claimed that Linux software infringed on some of its 235 patents," said Jay Lyman with The 451 Group. Yet, he added, it's hard to argue with the work that the software giant is doing with Novell, and of the presence it has on SourceForge, the development and download repository of open source code.

Indeed, the company announced the Microsoft Open Source Technology Center this year, which was essentially a unification of the Open Source Software Lab opened in Redmond, Wash., three years ago, and the Microsoft/Novell Interoperability Lab in Cambridge, Mass., a year ago.

While the Center may not physically be one building, the unification "was really an opportunity for us to pull the work together to be very focused on a few areas," said Tom Hanrahan, director of the Microsoft Open Source Technology Center.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Financial Crisis Offers Opportunity for Linux, Open Source

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, says technologies such as Linux and open-source software can help enterprises cut costs during tough economic times. Zemlin says users should look to open source and Linux, systems management tools, and virtualization technology to keep budgets in line.

In lean times, look for technologies such as Linux and open source to do well. The current financial crisis may just be one of those times.

Well, you might expect to hear that from the leader of one of the most influential Linux organizations around. But in an interview with eWEEK, Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, which represents the likes of IBM, Red Hat, Novell, Google, Oracle and a host of others, said:

"In these times you follow your grandparents’ wisdom: Make the best of what you have. That means maximizing utilization of existing infrastructure. I expect open source and Linux, systems management tools, and virtualization technology, all of which allow for better utilization rates of existing infrastructure at a low cost, to do well in this market. I would put in a plug for the fact that Linux can support almost every architecture on the planet and is a good way to consolidate on a single platform, but that would seem a little gratuitous. I would also add that I expect existing data center consolidation projects and IT efficiency projects will move ahead, but some new application deployment may get postponed."

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Linux Foundation plans new, more open open-source conference next year

Pro-Linux consortium says LinuxCon will be open to all comers, not invitation-only

After holding an invitation-only conference for key open-source developers and community members in each of the past two years, the Linux Foundation is expanding its events schedule to add a conference focused on a broader attendee base.

In an announcement today, the San Francisco-based consortium, which sets Linux standards and works to promote the use of the open-source operating system, said it will hold an event called LinuxCon next September that will be open to anyone who wants to attend.

The first LinuxCon will be held in Portland, Ore., and will include a technology showcase as well as technical sessions, tutorials, keynotes and targeted mini-summits on topics such as enterprise open source, mobile computing and embedded systems. LinuxCon will take place simultaneously with the foundation's second annual Linux Plumbers Conference, a previously planned event for leaders of the open-source development community.

"People who've attended our other events have asked for [a conference like LinuxCon], including people who are members of the foundation who'd like to open it to a broader audience," said Jim Zemlin, the consortium's executive director.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

A breakthrough for open source in the UK

Open source has long been the ugly stepchild of UK government information technology, but in a recent turn of events, it may finally be gaining ground with the British.

As The Inquirer reports, two open-source companies, Novell UK and Sirius, have been granted access to the UK's £80 million ($149 million) Software for Educational Institutions Framework, which enables them to supply software to the UK public sector. There may be additional open-source vendors chosen but the official list won't be released until Wednesday, September 24.

How important is this selection? Very.

The UK's procurement frameworks, a fast-track process for public sector purchasers, handled £4.4bn of business in the year to April 2008. They are not meant to prevent companies not on the lists from selling to the public sector but, said (Mark) Taylor (CEO of Sirius), this had not been the experience of the Open Source community.

"Schools would say, 'we want this stuff, it doesn't cost us anything and its really good'," said Taylor. "The LA would say, 'well the software's not on the list, there isn't a supplier who can supply it on the list, so you're on your own with that."

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Will Open Source Breathe New Life Into Health Care Cost Savings?

A Calif. bill calls for interoperable records and a full, hospital-running health care IT system that's open source. That's music to provider Medsphere, which backs OpenVista.

A California representative has introduced a bill that calls on the federal government to set an interoperability standard for electronic health care records and to make an open source health care system freely available.

Is open source code really the answer? Mike Doyle, president of the open source health care system provider Medsphere, says electronic health care records that follow interoperability standards will have to be open source code. As for an open source health care system, his company, Medsphere, has already got one, OpenVista. He would like it to become widely available to small hospitals and acute care facilities.

"We are a very enthusiastic supporter of what Rep. Pete Stark has introduced," he said in an interview a week after Democratic Congressman Stark of Fremont, Calif., introduced House Resolution 6898. His bill calls for interoperable health care records and a full, hospital-running health care IT system that's open source. Stark talked to high level representatives at Medsphere before introducing the legislation but nowhere does it mention OpenVista.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Serena software acquires open source

Serena Software has acquired Projity for OpenProj, its free, open source desktop project management software and project-on-demand as a Service (SaaS)-based project management software.

With this aquisition, Serena significantly bolsters its Serena Mariner Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) offering, a company statement said.

Serena Mariner was rated by Forrester as a leader in the The Forrester Wave, Project Portfolio Management Tools, Q4 2007 (December 2007) with "top-of-the-line portfolio management software, rodust reporting, and a unique implementation road map proces, it said.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Free software: It's about the money

IDG News Service — Open source software developers are seeing a lot of interest in their products in Europe -- but it's North American companies that are opening their checkbooks, said speakers at Paris Capitale du Libre, a conference organized by the Federation of Open Source Software Industry.

"Europe is two to three years ahead of North America in using open source, but two to three years behind in paying for it," said Andrew Aitken, CEO of open source strategy consultancy Olliance.

At first glance, figures from Mindtouch, an open source software developer, would seem to bear that out.

"Sixty percent of our distribution is in Europe, but 80 percent of our revenue is from the U.S.," Mindtouch CEO Aaron Fulkerson said.

Most of the Mindtouch staff work in the U.S., so naturally that's where the company makes most of its money delivering services around its Wiki-like enterprise collaboration software.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Is "open source" a matter of license or employment?

Peter Mularien takes a look at the developers for Spring and comes up with an unsurprising conclusion: "the vast majority of development on Spring Core is performed by SpringSource employees."

Though Peter suggests he's not trying to make a judgment on this fact, he implies that this somehow impugns the "open source-ness" of Spring. Indeed, in a comment on Rod Johnson's blog, Mularien suggests that the employment of Spring's developers by SpringSource "begs the question of how open the APL-licensed projects really are to outside involvement and contributions."

I think Mularien may be conflating "open source" with "open employment." The two are not the same.

All open-source projects are developed by a small core of committers. In the "important" open-source projects, those developers are employed by a range of companies. The difference with SpringSource (and other commercial open-source companies like SugarCRM, Alfresco, MySQL, etc.) is that it employs most or all of the developers.

Is this a bad thing? More pertinently to Mularien's contention, is it "less" open source?

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Let's talk cheap software

Want to know one of the things I really like about open-source software? The price.

Yes, I know, I know. It's 'free as in freedom, not free as in beer." Trust me. I get that. I also get though that open-source software gives you quality programs either for free or for a support fee that's often a fraction of the cost of proprietary software.

Of course, thank you, Robert A. Heinlein, TANSTAAFL (There's no such thing as a free lunch). If you're going to use any software, you're going to pay for it in one way or another. You need to learn how to use it. If you're in a business, you need to learn how to maintain it. You people know the drill.

But, one of the most important things about open-source software is that, once you have the knowledge, you don't need to spend any more money on it. I mean Novell or Red Hat will be happy to take your money for support contracts, but if you have enough people in your organization who know SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) or RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), there's no reason you couldn't run openSUSE, Fedora, or CentOS, which is based on the RHEL source code. Many companies already do that.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

If not Google, which corporation best champions open source?

was, frankly, surprised to see the results of yesterday’s poll. About two-fifths of you think Google is evil.

Such surveys are inherently noisy, and many ZDNet readers are fierce supporters of Microsoft, but still…Google is fast losing favor as the corporate champion of open source.

So who might replace it?

  • IBM, which has more open source projects out there than anyone else?
  • Red Hat, which offers the leading Linux distribution?
  • Canonical, which is so public in its support of desktop Linux through Ubuntu?
The natural reaction to this is to say “Champion? We don’t need non steenkin’ champion.”

Ah, but you do. Every ecosystem needs a planet to live on. Every planetary system needs a Sun. (Could our champion be Sun?)

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Beware open-source violations lurking in your code

Make sure proprietary, open-source code remain separate

IT organizations that feel safe from open-source licensing violations might be wise to check their code anyway, because open-source components are rapidly seeping into applications by way of offshore and in-house developers taking shortcuts, as well as a growing population of open-source-savvy grads entering the workforce.

"With all of these new aspects, open source is something companies are going to have to get their heads around," says Anthony Armenta, vice president of engineering at Wyse Technology Inc., a maker of thin clients.

It's not just about unearthing open-source code that's in violation of licensing, either. Open source must be managed like any other software component as security vulnerabilities arise and patches become available. Wyse has been using Palamida Inc. to track its open-source usage for the past year. Palamida checks code bases against a 6TB library of known open-source projects, fingerprints and binary files.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

RP still needs to enable open source community

MANILA, Philippines -- While there are now more local groups of open source developers in the Philippines, there are still a few major open source projects that have emerged in the country, an executive from a local distributor and executives from Red Hat said.

With increasing interest in the development of open source software, local distributor MSI-ECS Philippines Inc. and Red Hat said the country should eventually move to the development of an ecosystem of open source developers to provide support to end-users both in government and the private sector.

“Red Hat, for instance, is an established product. But this is not enough enablement for the local market. In our case, we want to enable our channel partners to engage the local open source communities,” Jimmy Go, president of MSI-ECS during a briefing in Manila.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Could open source have helped Lehman's technology customers?

As Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy, investment banks and brokers using its technology are in the dark about the future of their investments

Computerworld has a very interesting article that reports even as Lehman Brothers was heading toward bankruptcy it invested $309M on technology and communications in the quarter ended Aug. 31. This figure represents a 9.5 percent year-to-year increase, which is down from the 18 percent increase, to $1.145 billion, in IT costs for the full year 2007 vs. 2006.

It seems that Lehman was involved in selling some of its technology, specifically around a high-speed trading platform for equities called Baikal, to a number of investment banks and brokers.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Microsoft hails open source outreach

The company detailed accommodations made for open source, including the Microsoft Open Source Technology Center, at ZendCon 2008

Microsoft continued to make its case on Tuesday that it is a friend to open source, listing a number of efforts it has undertaken in spaces ranging from Linux to virtualization and rich Internet application technology.

Traditionally, Microsoft has been viewed as the commercial counterpoint to the open-source movement. But the company's presentation on Tuesday at the ZendCon 2008 conference in Santa, Clara, Calif. reiterated accommodations for open source

"We are trying to drive interoperability and integration with open source into the Windows platform by design," said Tom Hanrahan, director of the Microsoft Open Source Technology Center.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Sun Launches New Site for Hosting Open Source Projects

Sun Microsystems has launched a new effort to compete with Google Code and various Forge sites with its beta site Project Kenai (pronounced Keen-Eye). According to a blog post, the site was launched quietly on Friday, and a primary goal of the site is to host open source projects and encourage collaboration on them. Project Kenai is built on Ruby on Rails, and uses Subversion and Mercurial version-control systems. How will this compete with similar sites?

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sun launches open-source virtualisation platform

Sun has launched an open-source virtualisation platform for servers under the banner xVM Server.

Although the product is free to download, support for the new application — including access to patches and training — costs $500 (£280) per physical server per year.

xVM is built to work on Windows, Linux and Unix operating systems, including Sun's Solaris, and is also interoperable with VMware, allowing workloads to be moved between the two platforms.

Keeping with the open-source theme, Sun also launched the yesterday, an online open-source community to develop and improve the product.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Open source's usability challenge

The iPhone has been out for a year, and known about in detail for considerably longer. Yet the very latest crop of state-of-the-art Windows Mobile phones, clearly designed as head-on competitors to that phone, miss the mark by miles.

They all have the same feature list — indeed, they capitalise on the many aspects of the iPhone that are well below par — but they all feel cruder and more frustrating to use. You can't just bolt this stuff on.

Usability is extremely important. It's also very hard to do well and requires extreme corporate self-discipline. If you ever find yourself asking which of Apple and Microsoft has the more effective management, compare their products. Unless an engineer knows with total clarity that their part of the project will be thrown back for failing to meet usability standards, then the urge to cut a corner or half-bake a feature can be irresistible. Functionality is easy to specify and test: usability far less so.

That should make usability supremely challenging for open-source projects, especially ones of the scale and complexity of Ubuntu. But then, open source is not known for following corporate theory: witness the fact that the Linux desktop has evolved to the point where it's beyond merely usable but a fully-featured and viable alternative in daily work to paid-for software. That should have been impossible: it turned out to be anything but.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Five open source Web 2.0 applications

Blogs, wikis, social networks, social news aggregator. Although there's certainly been a lot of hype around these things, when applied in the right circumstances they can serve a utility for many people and businesses.

Fortunately, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get started building out your own Web 2.0 toolkit because there are free, open-source Web 2.0 applications that enable you to operate your own Web 2.0 services - for fun or for business.

Here are 5 of them:

  • Chyrp is a lightweight open source blogging application modeled after Tumblr.

  • Elgg is a social networking platform. Although I haven't yet tried it out, it looks very promising and it just had its 1.0 release.

  • MediaWiki is the wiki software that was originally developed for Wikipedia.

  • Pligg is the most popular Digg clone. It runs on PHP and MySQL.

  • WordPress is one of the world's most popular blog publishing platforms and some of the most trafficked blogs on the internet run on it.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Open Source a successful business model

Today, open source beyond Linux, is proving itself to be a tremendously successful business model. Secure, reliable, flexible Linux and open source software is rapidly complementing commercial software in customer engagements that include standards-based hardware platforms, software, and services.

In an exclusive with Genevieve Khongwir, CIOL, Dr. Guruduth Banavar, Director, IBM India Research Laboratory highlights on IBM's role to the open source community along with India's adoption and trends of the industry. Excerpts:

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Monday, September 8, 2008

How to setup an intranet with free open source software

Even the smallest business or organization can benefit from an intranet. Information, documents, communication and more can be centralized in one web-based environment- accessible from anywhere, by anyone within the organization. While this used to be a complicated process involving hardware and proprietary software, it’s much easier these days with the use of a variety of free open source software.

While the structuring and extensiveness of an intranet depends on your specific situation and organization, there are some basic tools and applications that act as a core in any intranet. Primarily, communication and groupware are the main staples- this can include things like central calendaring, internal forums, group-based document depositories, project-management environments, and more.

Through the use of freely available open source software, you can basically piece together an intranet based on your needs. Most aspects of an intranet can be found through the use of one open source script or another. For example, if you’re organization employs several “work-at-home” employees, you can install a forum script, a project-management script, and a document depository, which would give all your employees web-based access to an internal forum that allows on-going group-discussions, as well as a separate project management dashboard for things like collectively writing documents, contributing to research, etc.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Symbian on the decline: Time to move on open source

While unit sales of mobile handsets are growing, as Ars Technica reports, the leading mobile operating system, Symbian, is on the decline. Perhaps it's time for Symbian to accelerate its plans to open source the operating system?

Symbian's dominance in the smartphone space has been taking a hit lately at the expense of other platforms, including Windows Mobile, the iPhone, and open-source alternatives that reduce licensing costs and offer more flexibility. Symbian's business model and development strategy were out of step with the direction in which the industry was collectively moving....

This prompted Symbian's move toward open source, one that seems to be progressing slowly, perhaps due to the search for an executive director for the Symbian Foundation. With Google starting to get its act together on Android, as well as LiMo, Wind River, and other Linux alternatives kicking in, Symbian doesn't have much time.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Sun execs to RP developers: focus on open source

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino software developers should focus on open source in order to take advantage of existing market trends, a top executive of Sun Microsystems said.

Reggie Hutcherson, head of Sun's technology evangelism group, said today's generation of developers is challenged to learn multiple programming languages.

"Before, developers need only to master a few programming languages such as C++," Hutcherson said in an interview with He visited Manila recently to speak at the Youth for IT Congress in UP Diliman.

He added: "Today developers are being challenged to learn multiple languages. You need to know a scripting language. You probably need to know a database infrastructure and integration and networking technology as well."

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Open Source Software: Your Company's Legal Risks

Open source software is a convenient way for developers to build solutions. However, if your company plans to distribute that software, a recent ruling makes it clear that failing to follow the open source license could put you in jeopardy of a copyright claim, according to Michael P. Bennett and Katherine K. Ivers of the Wildman Harrold law firm.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a decision in the much-watched case Jacobsen v. Katzer, No. 2008-1001 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 13, 2008), which turned on whether violating an open source licensing agreement should be considered copyright infringement.

It is important for companies to be aware of the implications of this decision and to respond accordingly; this applies to all companies that use open source software -- even those who think they don't. The temptation to incorporate open source software into a company's products is great, because open source software is readily available via download and is free of charge.

Developers on tight budgets and time lines often see open source as a quick fix, and it is -- but there's a catch. Though free of charge, open source software is not free of terms and conditions, and virtually all open source software is subject to a license agreement. The decision in Jacobsen strengthens the ability of open source programmers to enforce these license agreements, and should cause companies who use or distribute open source in their own software to carefully review their policies.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Open source software is a unique risk

Businesses today are built and operated by software that houses intellectual property, business processes and trade secrets that are vital to the health of an enterprise. Organisations must address potential weaknesses in their everyday operations before they become exploitable.

It’s the ultimate irony: The versatile software you depend on to run your business also puts it at risk. Your business applications hold the business processes and the data that form the lifeblood of your company. Yet, even as they open your business up to more customers and partners, the security holes your software contains leave you vulnerable to attack. Relentless and destructive data predators are ready to pounce. Today’s hackers, organised crime cartels and enemy nations are highly adept at quickly turning security flaws into stolen data and cash. I’m not in the habit of finger pointing over flaws in packages – let’s face it we all know that application bugs exist, the only real question is why?

Open source development introduces risk to your business in unique ways. The inexpensive and readily available nature of open source makes it easy to adopt. But at what cost to enterprise security?

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

'The power of open source'

MySQL is the M in LAMP, the Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/Python/PHP open source software stack that has underpinned the Internet revolution, empowering generations of web development on all parts of the spectrum. David Axmark, co-founder of MySQL, was in Bangkok to explain the history of MySQL, the company's culture and the power of open source development as well as give a glimpse of its future now that MySQL has been taken over by Sun Microsystems.

Development began back in 1992 as the company needed a simple database for its own use. By 1995, the project became known as MySQL after My, the daughter of fellow co-founder Monty Widenius. The first public release was in 1996 and the company continued to grow as a loosely knit group of software programmers with no formal organisation or budgetary process until 2001.

"Developers usually complain about administrators, but they actually do good work and you notice when you don't have them," Axmark said. In 2001, just after the dot com crash, the company went for its first round of funding. One more round and later in 2008, MySQL AB was acquired by Sun Microsystems for $1 billion.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Google to Release Open-Source 'Chrome' Browser

Are Internet Explorer and Firefox ready to do battle with Chrome?

Google announced Monday that it has been hard at work on an open-source browser known as Chrome, a beta version of which will be released in 100 countries on Tuesday.

New features will included "isolated" tabs designed to prevent browser crashes and a more powerful JavaScript engine.

"Why are we launching Google Chrome? Because we believe we can add value for users and, at the same time, help drive innovation on the web," Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, Google engineering director, wrote in a blog post.

Google was apparently looking to keep news of Chrome under wraps until after the holiday weekend. A 38-page, online comic book that provided details about Chrome hit the blogosphere Monday morning, but Pichai and Upson said in their blog post that Google had "hit 'send' a bit early" on the web comic.

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