Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Oracle says it’s playing by open source community rules

SINGAPORE -- Reiterating its support to the open source community, Oracle Corp. said it has always been playing by the community's rules, not imposing its own standards, an executive told reporters here.

While declining to comment directly on the recent approval of a Microsoft-backed data format by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the company said it would continue supporting the open standards community.

"We have been supporting the ISO. Our involvement in ISO is not about one against the other," said Shane Owenby, senior director of the Linux and Open Source in Oracle Corp. in Asia Pacific.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Open source big names helping attract new users

Participation by big open source vendors is helping attract new interest in Linux user groups in Asia.

Khairil Yusof, president of the Free/Open Source Software Society (FOSS) in Malaysia, said in an interview that the group's members have benefited by sharing knowledge with others from different technology backgrounds during its monthly meetings.

New members are able to listen to talks ranging from a wide spectrum of topics such as desktop usage to running an open source software business, as well as "personally meet local and international developers", said Yusof.

"This exposes them to one of the biggest advantages of [the group], that interactions and knowledge-sharing has no barriers...a junior developer can ask questions and have an informal conversation with international personalities such as IBM's [vice president of open source and standards] Bob Sutor or Sun's [chief open source officer] Simon Phipps," Yusof said.

Denis Antipov, one of the first members of The Dining Philosophers, one of two Shanghai Linux user groups, said his group has also benefited from inviting representatives of open source companies to give talks, which he said has incited new interest in the group.

For the Malaysian group, organizing monthly meetings has also helped expand the group's contact with other developer interest groups, noted Yusof.

He said the monthly meetings have "continued to attract increasing numbers, creating a better local community compared to communicating via mailing lists in the past".

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Guerrilla IT? Sounds like open source

Dan Tynan wrote a great story in InfoWorld recently about Guerrilla IT and how to leverage it by empowering your super users and implementing ways for folks to collaborate and share best practices. I couldn't help but think how so many good innovations have snuck into IT through the back door, the side door and under the radar of what management officially approved.

Consider in the early days that lots of CIOs didn't want to have to deal with PCs or Macintoshes. So departments just approved the expense themselves and that's how killer apps like Visicalc, Lotus 1-2-3 and Aldus Pagemaker made inroads into organizations. Sooner or later, IT organizations realized they'd be better off supporting the rogue applications and PCs, rather than fighting them.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Raise the level of production with Open Source Software

Ever since the overwhelming success of the Mozilla Firefox web browser most people recognize the wide distribution of open source software. In areas like web/network servers operation systems like UNIX or Linux have a long tradition and are widely known and highly esteemed for there reliability and security. Also the Apache http-server is a good example, nearly 58 % of the web servers are using this open source software to offer websites

With the propagation of the Linux operation system, which could be called the biggest open source project, the potential of a software, written by a community, gets visible. Through the internet, software developers can exchange their ideas and perfect the results.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Open source management software breaks into the data center

Linux in the data center brings with it a dilemma: more boxes to manage. Traditional IT management tools such as HP OpenView, IBM Tivoli, and CA Unicenter can creep up in cost as the server count increases. With management tools in the picture, the total cost of ownership may actually increase instead of decrease when Linux is brought in.

"I see CIO's looking at tools that allow them to extend existing core IT systems down to Linux, so they can treat the system like any other already on their network," explains Steve Merkel, CIO of Denver-based data center Data393. "If they can deploy Linux within the enterprise, and administratively apply policy to that box just like they apply it to any Windows environment on the network, they would likely explore that option."

However, the displacement of many proprietary products by the open source movement may enter the equation for enterprise management tools as well. Using open source to manage open source, with products such as GroundWork Open Source, Puppet, and Zenoss, might be the answer to this dilemma.

Mark Hinkle, Vice President of Community for Zenoss, has seen a definite swing in the direction of his product over the past few years. The company surveys their market and finds that a smaller and smaller percentage choose tools because they are a perceived "trusted source." Hinkle has observed a growing trend towards the use of open source tools to manage IT assets.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Is it too late for open source Java?

Sun says it is working hard to make Java completely open source so Linux shops can use it.

But is it already too late?

Developers who commented on Slashdot recently said it is. They said the company’s previous proprietary attitude caused them to turn to alternatives like Python and Ruby.

The argument is that too many developers are now trained on Python and Ruby, and too much code is now out there, for Java to win on Linux servers.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Chronicle Of A Startup: Microsoft Or Open Source?

The biggest choice I face in launching my Web 2.0 site is that of underlying technology platform. So I'm throwing the question open: Should I go with a Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) software stack or open source?

I'm truly agnostic on this decision, but I'll say up front that I'm leaning toward Microsoft, mainly because I'm guessing that it will be easier to find qualified programming help. I'm not a technician, and I don't have a budget to hire one. Since the programming work will be outsourced to freelancers, I'm guessing that it will be easier to find Visual Studio/Silverlight programmers than PHP or Ruby on Rails help. But that's merely a hunch; I haven't researched it.

I bounced my idea off Toli Kuznets, co-founder and CTO of Marketcetera, a startup that I recently profiled in InformationWeek. Marketcetera is a commercial open source company, so Toli is obviously biased toward open source. If I were based in San Francisco, this would be a no-brainer -- the vast majority of Bay Area Web startups are working with the open source LAMP stack, he says. In New York, where I live, that's not necessarily true.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sun looks to free up the rest of Java

Company eyes Linux installations as potential new users

Sun Microsystems is stepping up efforts to boost Java usage in Linux shops by working to remove some final encumbrances in the open-source Java platform.

By freeing these up, Java can be fully open-source and thus be packaged more easily with Linux distributions. In conjunction with this activity, Sun is talking with Linux distributors, including OpenSuse, Ubuntu and Fedora to have them offer an updated version of OpenJDK, which constitutes the open-source Java platform. Sun plans to offer the updated OpenJDK soon and clear the last few encumbrances later.

"We're hoping to see some movement [with the] Linux distributions in the very near future, hopefully by JavaOne," said Rich Sands, group manager for developer marketing at Sun, in an interview on Tuesday. The JavaOne conference is to be held in San Francisco in two weeks.

OpenJDK is based on Java Platform, Standard Edition (SE) 6. The open sourcing process began in November 2006. But a few components, including some encryption libraries, graphics libraries, the sound engine, and some SNMP management code still could not be offered under the GNU General Public License. These components accounted for 4 percent of the platform.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Open-source Flash rival "Gnashes" out

A non-profit open source project with high-profile backers has released beta code for an open source Flash media player, with a media server in the wings. Open Media Now's Gnash player runs standalone or as a plugin, and may run better than Flash on constrained devices.

Last week the Gnash development project released the first beta (release 0.8.2) of its GPLv3 SWF (Shockwave Flash) movie player and browser plug-in. The free player is designed for "computer, gaming, embedded, and consumer electronic devices," according to the non-profit Open Media Now Foundation (OMNow) funding the effort. Gnash is likely to use less memory and power than Adobe's Flash.

Originally created as a user interface for a digital stereo set-top box (STB), and based on work done by the GPLFlash project, the Gnash player runs as a browser plugin for Firefox, Mozilla, Konqueror, and NetFront, and is optimized for Firefox 1.0.4 or higher. Gnash is said to run on embedded GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. There is also a standalone player for GNOME- or KDE-based desktops, and ports to Darwin and Windows are said to be in progress. The player supports embedded architectures including MIPS, PowerPC, ARM, and Sparc.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

The future of open-source infrastructure is...applications?

It occurred to me today that open-source infrastructure providers (e.g., commercial providers of open-source operating systems, databases, application servers, etc.) may have much in common with telecommunications infrastructure providers (like cable, wireless, etc. providers).

Everyone uses their stuff, and generally at a rate that doesn't quite match the value of the benefits derived from it.

Early on we pay a premium for broadband Internet or support for still-buggy but cheaper open-source software. Over time it becomes commodified and our willingness to pay decreases.

What's a company to do?

In the wireless world, Sun is telling its telecommunications customers to look to applications to drive revenue growth. It's very possible that this same advice applies to open-source infrastructure providers.

Maybe Canonical will never make much money from Ubuntu. Perhaps Ubuntu becomes the cloud platform on which Canonical enables all sorts of value-added services?

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Open Source Census: Stand Up And Be Counted

Just how much open source software are people using? Getting hard numbers about open source usage is one of those tough-to-crack problems that doesn't seem to have a definitive solution -- partly because of the nature of open source itself. Self-reporting seems to be about the only way to get any numbers at all, unreliable and biased as that may be. But if self-reporting open source usage is made as easy as a couple of mouse clicks, why not do it?

That's at least part of the impetus behind the Open Source Census, a project sponsored by (among others) open source vendor OpenLogic. The idea is to have users perform scans of their systems and submit data about what open source applications and packages are in use, and complement that with package-fingerprint information submitted by the creators of open source software. Information sent back to the OSC is anonymized as heavily as possible, to keep down the amount of proprietary information that might be transmitted. Reports derived

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Open Source: Commonplace or Confusing?

The latest offering from Research and Markets indicates that open source has quickly become commonplace in the business of software, such that most vendors consider it “just another piece of business.” From the Saugatuck Technologies abstract:

Within the past 12 to 18 months, many software vendors have moved from fear to aggression, pursuing open source development firm acquisitions, incorporating open source code into offerings throughout their portfolios, and looking for (or planning) open source offerings.

At the same time, researchers note, there is also evidence that some vendors may not understand all the implications of open source licensing and development. They report that they are on top of “the open source thing,” but they are hard pressed to show how they’ve worked open source into business strategies or detail the resources that management has committed to open source initiatives.

Nonetheless, writers say the results are far from their findings just a year ago, which indicated that many “were struggling” with what the increasing demand for open source meant for their businesses.

Source :

Moodle - the open source software that's getting serious

The exhibition, which opens on Tuesday and runs until Thursday, is organised by the Chartered Institute For Personal Development and will be attended by thousands of HR managers, training outfits and others keen to learn about the latest learning and development techniques.

HowToMoodle based in the Midlands, at Wolverhampton University's Telford campus. The company has quickly become the leader in showing others how to take advantage of the Moodle system.

"This is serious software for serious learning," said founder and MD Ray Lawrence. "It is now embraced by industry, local authorities, universities, colleges, and charities and is accepted as the future for on-line learning courses."

HowToMoodle will be the sole voice of Moodle at the exhibition, and Ray says he's expecting a lot of interest. "Many people have heard about Moodle, and have dabbled a little or had some ad-hoc training; but they still don't understand how powerful it is.", continued Ray. "We show people how to get the most out of it;

how to initiate their own coursework and learning programmes".

The company is growing rapidly, with customers scattered all over the UK and beyond, with a busy web site - and a growing army of enthusiastic organisations.

HRD 2008 is at the ExCel, London Tuesday-Thursday. Info from the exhibition web site, at:

Source :

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Experts contradict on open source

The use of open source software will become a key enabler for software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform adoption, says Gartner. However, software developers at the IQ Business Group (IQBG) say there is no such thing as a free lunch.

A new Gartner report enthuses that 90% of SaaS providers will have some open source component in their technology infrastructure stacks (that is, operating system, application server and database) by 2010 to reduce software acquisition expenses.

The research firm adds that user communities are expanding around application-platform-as-a-service providers and will leverage open source practices for sharing software applications.

"As the community of SaaS users increases, along with the emergence of associated application-platform-as-a-service providers' open source-type practices, application exchange will continue to grow," says Gartner VP and analyst Robert DeSisto.

"Community capabilities, such as voting and validation of those useful applications versus ones that are not, will help self-police these emerging communities. The more SaaS vendors use open source in the technology stack, the lower their software acquisition cost becomes,” DeSisto adds.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Open Source: Commonplace or Confusing?

The latest offering from Research and Markets indicates that open source has quickly become commonplace in the business of software, such that most vendors consider it “just another piece of business.” From the Saugatuck Technologies abstract:

Within the past 12 to 18 months, many software vendors have moved from fear to aggression, pursuing open source development firm acquisitions, incorporating open source code into offerings throughout their portfolios, and looking for (or planning) open source offerings.

At the same time, researchers note, there is also evidence that some vendors may not understand all the implications of open source licensing and development. They report that they are on top of “the open source thing,” but they are hard pressed to show how they’ve worked open source into business strategies or detail the resources that management has committed to open source initiatives.

Nonetheless, writers say the results are far from their findings just a year ago, which indicated that many “were struggling” with what the increasing demand for open source meant for their businesses.

Source :

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Open Source programmers earn more and combat trade deficit

The findings from the fourth-quarter 2007 Open Source Industry and Community survey is out. The authors say the results show open source is effective in combating trade deficit and that IT professionals involved in open source earn more than their more proprietary colleagues. Let’s check it out.

The survey was conducted by Australian based Waugh Partners, Pia and Jeff Waugh, between October and December 2007. Their data has been hinted at in the past, but finally this week they published their findings.

The report is available from Waugh Partners’ web site and is freely redistributable under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Derivatives License which fundamentally means you are pre-approved to send it to anyone, publish it anywhere and quote from it, so long as attributions are cited. Perhaps slightly ironically the report was formatted using a proprietary package (Adobe InDesign) but that, of course, has no bearing on the substance of the report.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Linux or open source?

The name of this blog is “Linux and open source” but the question Microsoft wants you to ask yourself is, simply, Linux or open source?

While Linux is an open source operating system, it’s not always free. There is a lot of free open source for Windows. It’s quite easy to have both open source and Windows. I do. You probably do, too.

In such an environment, the battle comes down, again, to where will you find the applications you most want and need?

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

IBM Open-Source Expert Criticizes Standards Process

Any of the ISO and IEC national bodies can lodge a formal appeal over the next two months, before the Office Open XML standard is published.

Criticism and calls for an investigation have come close on the heels of the formal announcement that Microsoft's Office Open XML file formats had received the necessary number of votes for approval as an ISO/IEC international standard.

In a statement released April 2, the ISO (International Standards Organization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) said 75 percent of the participating Joint Technical Committee members cast positive votes, with just 14 percent of the total national member body votes being negative.

Approval required at least 66.66 percent of the votes cast by national bodies to be positive, and no more than 25 percent of the total number of ISO/IEC national body votes cast to be negative. "These criteria have now been met," the statement said.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How to Mitigate the Risks Associated with Open Source Code

The use of open source code is on the rise. It provides developers flexibility, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. We have seen, though, that the acquiring companies that are buying assets are not paying close attention to the risks involved. These risks include buying software assets that may include open source code, but may contain limitations on the right to sell or license the software.

In the last decade, use of open source software has risen from the basement of the weekend code warrior to the high-rise of enterprise development strategist. This surge in corporate popularity can be attributed to the cost-effectiveness, efficiency and reliability of open source code. Yet, use of open source code presents risks--especially for a company acquiring technology assets that include open source code.

Does that mean that the risks outweigh the benefits? Probably not. A few years ago, most companies took a conservative approach, attempting to avoid open source code at all costs. Today, that approach is outdated. The market has since developed means of mitigating the risks associated with using open source code.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Letter: Misunderstandings over open-source software harm local IT industry

I am writing to appeal to you to correct some serious errors in the manner in which the speech of minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi at the Idlelo conference, as well as subsequent response to it, were covered. I am particularly referring to the opinion piece that was carried in Business Report on March 30, Microsoft's mission to make money in a mouse click.

The minister opened a pan Africa conference on free open source software (FOSS), called Idlelo, held in Dakar last month. Idlelo was started here in South Africa, at the University of the Western Cape in 2004.

Some of the reports about her speech set up the notion of the minister pitted against the IT (information technology) industry. Yet nothing could conceivably be further from the truth.

The opinion piece in Business Report provides a good example of the horrible lack of understanding of the IT industry and the IT landscape in South Africa, and the hazards to South Africa of spreading dangerous misinformation that is itself a threat to our IT industry and the jobs that the industry creates.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sun founder extols open source for government

Scott McNealy, founder of Sun Microsystems and chairman of the company's federal division, told agency officials today that open-source software based on open standards provides the security, interoperability and low cost that government needs.

It is a familiar message, one McNealy delivers at every appearance, and his keynote address today at the FOSE trade show in Washington, D.C., was no exception. "We invented open source," McNealy declared in a tone that dared anyone to challenge the claim, and he listed its advantages.

Open-source software has no barrier to entry, he said. Curious users can download products for free, making it easy to try a few options in a short time at no cost.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Open source increases its share

BUSINESS generated directly from open source software in Australia is worth about $300 million a year, with government a large contributor to the pie, a study shows.

An additional $200 million comes from open source services and related hardware, according to the report's co-author Jeff Waugh.

About 129 companies of different sizes participated in the research, a nationwide census aimed at sizing up companies and contributors in the open source sector.

Mr Waugh described $500 million as a "conservative estimate", and there were about 1500 companies providing open source services.

The study showed that open source companies were not "one-man-band contractors", which was a common misconception, he said.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Open source is good for IT

I gave a presentation at OSBC (open source business conference) last week. I don't often speak at conferences, but I have been working on an open source strategy for 4 years and believed that presenting that plan might help other CTOs/CIOs in their open source plans. Two bloggers (Matt Asay and Zack Urlocker) reviewed my presentation at and

First, Kaplan was not the only company describing their use of open source. Other included CBS interactive, Paypal, Weather Channel interactive, NY times, Electronic Arts, LA times, Christian Science Monitor. In addition, a full 40% of attendees were IT workers, not open source vendors.

In my presentation, I laid out the case for open source, my 3 step plan deploying open source, my experience with vendors and challenges with open source (good summaries on two blogs linked above). I got a myriad of questions from the audience at the end. Our chief architect, Gautam Guliani, was there to answer as well when we were approached privately after general Q&A.

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Open-source software as guerrilla marketing strategy

SAN FRANCISCO--Chances are if you're running a commercial open-source company, Google is one of your best friends.

That's because a search on Google for "open source and (whatever company X sells)" can yield the largest volume of referrals to an upstart in that business.

"Two-thirds of our leads come from Google, and more than half come from the search term 'open source'," said Ismael Ghalimi, CEO and founder of Intalio, which develops software for business process applications. Ghalimi spoke here Monday on an entrepreneurs' panel at SDForum's Global Open Source Conference.

Daniel Chalef, CEO of KnowledgeTree, which develops document management software, added that he has an unfair advantage over proprietary software because his company gets linked in many open-source directories. That linking puts KnowledgeTree in the top three or four vendors on Google searches. That drives an enormous amount of traffic.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Open source vendors focus on SOA coders

Open source vendors MuleSource Inc. and WSO2 Inc. are focusing on making life easier for coders working on service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects.

The companies announced new products this week aimed at the SOA developer community. MuleSource is releasing Mule 2.0 Community Edition, its new Eclipse-based IDE and providing a RESTpack to help coders transition to using Representational State Transfer (REST). WSO2 is releasing a version of its Web Services Framework to support development working with the popular Spring framework.

There is a common thread in these announcements, which is that open source vendors are focused on making it easier for developers to use frameworks for coding SOA, said Bradley F. Shimmin, principal analyst of application infrastructure at Current Analysis LLC.

"The open source vendors are much more sensitive to the developer community than you see from the larger closed-source platform vendors," Shimmin said. "Although those platform vendors are great on tools, it's really the smaller companies like MuleSource, WSO2, Red Hat and Iona, as well as Sun that are keenly aware of just how much work goes into building an application."

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Kenya: Open Sourcing Can Tackle Software Piracy

Adoption of Open Source Software (OSS) as an alternative to copyrighted products is seen as a promising solution to software piracy in developing countries like Kenya. BPO services in at initial stage at Kenyan industry.

Globally, software piracy is blamed for the high cost of commercial software. At several thousand shillings, the price of familiar operating system and Office software is too high for normal users and institutions in Kenya where estimates show that 80 per cent of the commercial software used is pirated.

Unlike commercial software, which has to be purchased and registered, open source software can be down loaded and used free of charge. The only exception is when it has to be customised in which case a fee is paid.

Open source software is developed largely by community brains rather than global IT firms and has risen to rival commercial software as governments like South Africa pass regulations requiring departments to increase use of open source solutions.

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