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 xVMServer.org 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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Tags: BPO Services | Outsource Medical Billing | Medical Billing Services | Medical Coding | Medical Transcription | Medical Transcription Services | CAD Drafting | CAD Design | CAD 3D Modeling | CAD Engineering | CAD Rendering | AutoCAD Drawing

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 INQUIRER.net. 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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