Saturday, December 26, 2009

Google's Open-Source Manifesto Tells the Truth

Jonathan Rosenberg, senior vice-president of product management at Google (GOOG), put up on Dec. 21 what was more of a tome than a mere post on the company's blog. Entitled "The Meaning of Open," it was originally sent to Google employees as an e-mail, but it reads like a manifesto.

Arguments have raged for years about exactly what is entailed by an open-technology strategy, as opposed to a closed one. In the open-source community, the free software definition explicitly states that truly free software means "free as in speech, not free as in beer." It further explicitly states that freeware—software applications that you or I can use without paying—differs from true open-source software, whose source code we can view and change.

Rosenberg's open manifesto goes well beyond the concept of open-source software, however, in that he goes on to tackle open standards, the value of an open Internet, and the overall concept of open information. He writes: "To understand our position in more detail, it helps to start with the assertion that open systems win. This is counterintuitive to the traditionally trained MBA, who is taught to generate a sustainable competitive advantage by creating a closed system, making it popular, then milking it through the product life cycle. The conventional wisdom goes that companies should lock in customers to lock out competitors…Open systems are just the opposite."

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Open Source, SaaS to drive future of microfinance IT: Grameen Technology Center

Open Source software and SaaS are emerging as the key Management Information Systems (MIS) software for MFIs, according to Craig Chelius from the Grameen Technology Center (GTC). These products, he argues, can offer MFIs fully customisable, secure software that they can own without the need to pay expensive licensing fee.

Mr. Chelius is the Global Sales Advisor for MIFOS — an open source, web-based “SaaS” system developed by GTC which MFIs can download and modify for free. Work on MIFOS began in 2006, and GTC has worked Grameen Koota in Bangalore, India, since 2007 to develop and implement the software. MIFOS is now used by 20 MFIs in India, Nepal, the Philippines, Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia and Ghana.

MIS are the systems MFIs use to record and track financial information. It is here that loan officers record money given to clients for loans services as well as cash received from repayments. This information is then available to management and the back office for accounting and compliance purposes. As an essential part of MFI operations, MIS is an important factor to the operational efficiency of MFIs.

According to the Grameen Technology Center, the lack of flexible and cost-effective MIS infrastructure is limiting the ability of MFIs to grow. MIX/CGAP study on MIS in microfinance found that 41% of MFIs use a manual MIS — either Excel-spreadsheets or paper-based systems to track payments. These methods are time-consuming and vulnerable to data loss, limiting the ability of MFIs to grow their client base.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Open source software needs marketing

PUNE: There is a need for greater promotion of the use of open source software for information and communication technology (ICT)-based teaching and learning.

Professor Kannan M Moudgalya of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), highlighted this on Monday. Moudgalya, who heads the Centre for Distance Engineering Education Programme (CDEEP) at the IIT, was delivering the keynote address at the launch of kPoint, a software solution for interactive learning and training.

kPoint, developed by city-based Great Software Laboratory (GSL), was launched by noted computer expert Vijay Bhatkar, creator of India's Param series of supercomputers. Heads and professionals from leading IT companies as well as principals of engineering institutions were present at the occasion. Open source software refers to computer software provided under a license that is in the public domain.

"Open source software has a distinct cost advantage over the expensive commercial software packages. However, a considerable marketing effort is required to secure a greater and wider audience of students for courses transmitted live using ICT tools based on open source software," Moudgalya said.

"Open source software is often sufficient in most distance education programmes, except for some niche academic segments. However, academic institutions don't train students in using good open source software," he further stated.

Friday, October 30, 2009

`Technology has a banana's shelf life'

MUMBAI: Scott McNealy, the 52-year-old co-founder and chairman of Sun Microsystems, is known to be colourful and controversial. And he didn’t disappoint. On his second visit to India on Thursday, Mr McNealy outlined Sun’s vision to bridge the digital divide through open source technologies and rubbished the usefulness of proprietary technology.

“Technology has the shelf life of a banana. By the time you buy it, implement it and train people on it, it’s obsolete. The right thing to do is to share IP. Rather than litigate and protect our IP, we’ve decide to innovate and share it,” Mr McNealy said in a not-so-veiled reference to Microsoft.

Enterprises, he said, should look not just at acquisition cost and operating costs associated with a software but also the buried exit clause. The cost of getting out a proprietary system and moving to another environment was enormous, and companies needed to factor in this cost as well. “The buried exit cost could be 10 times the cost A (acquisition cost) plus cost B (operating costs),” he said, using heroin addiction as an analogy. Even if heroin was given for free, it had to be paid for later.

And nor was Microsoft the only corporation at the receiving end. IBM’s DB2 database, Novell’s directory, storage system vendors, and other open source vendors got their fair share of ridicule and fun. Sun, Mr McNealy said, could provide everything from servers to storage technology, and operating systems to chips. Sun’s newest foray is into microelectronics or chips. The design of its Ultrasparc T2 chip that will roll out in the summer of this year is available for free download and McNealy said companies in China were downloading it and building variants of it.

Mr McNealy positioned Sun as a provider of entire systems rather than piece-meal components. “I’m building an airplane in my garage. I’ve got the wings from Boeing, the interiors from Airbus, other spare from makers of aircraft parts.. now I’ll let you fly in it. I’ll let you drive it. Suddenly, the food on United Airlies looks good,” he joked, prompting guffaws from the audience.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Cos switch to open source technologies to cut costs

NEW DELHI: Indian enterprises, private and public, are opening up to saving costs by using free for use technologies. Governments, institutionsand companies are increasingly turning to open source technologies to turn frugal as these softwares, hardwares and applications
are often free but also to avoid falling into the trap of a proprietary IT environment.

While commercial software vendors disagree with open source providers, support is often cheaper in the open source environment.Take for instance, the Rs 550-crore Sheela Foam, that makes Sleepwell brand of mattresses. After implementing open source, Pertish Mankotia, IT head at Sheela Foam, seems to be enjoying a nice sleep, despite the economic downturn.

“Our maintenance costs have dropped to one-sixth as we migrated to an open source based system in April, this year,” he said. Sheela Foam has about 3,000 dealers, 1,000 employees and 70 distributors connected via IT systems across the country.

“We invested only about Rs 8 lakh (Rs 4 lakh for a Dell server). We will incur a saving of Rs 50 lakh, because of a migration from a proprietary software to an open ERP solution running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) on Dell X86 servers,” says Mankotia.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Paragent, LLC. Announces Hosted Model Open Source IT Management

Muncie, Indiana, United States

Paragent, LLC, a high quality software company specializing in open source IT desktop management software has announced the availability of its hosted model open source IT management software.

Paragent, LLC offers one of the most highly regarded open source web-based desktop management service available today. This software as a service product (SaaS) is perfect for almost any size organization in managing hardware and software inventory, software license auditing, alerting and remote control processes.

Paragent’s hosted model open source IT management software is quite easy to implement due to the use of a small agent running on each monitored computer. This agent keeps track of and reports on a variety of functions, data and commands.

It should be noted that Paragent’s agent-based solution provides its customers with a truly flexible, scalable and secure experience. In fact, by being a hosted model, Paragent can offer and provide a truly robust and flexible suite of IT management tools.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

On the future of Open Source thought leadership

After over a decade of being in the shadow of the Free Software movement and 30 years of its inflexible dogmatic principles, disruptive new Open Source thought leadership is emerging that is truly able to compromise with the realistic needs of business and end-users without carrying the baggage of strict adherence to an ideology that is by definition a culture of exclusion. (artwork by Spidermonkey, Inc.)

My last article on Richard M. Stallman’s verbal attack on Miguel de Icaza and his continuing crusade against anyone who doesn’t fit the mold of the Free Software community seems to have struck a chord with those who sympathize with that movement’s ideals to the point of driving them to utter histrionics, unjustified hero worship and irrational thought.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Palm launch Open Source Developer Program

Palm has announced a programme for open source developers wishing to write for Palm's Linux based WebOS. For closed source applications the Palm developer programme requires an upfront fee of $99 (£62) from developers, with a $50 (£31) fee for each app that is published through Palm's App Catalogue. For open source developers both the up front fee and the per app fee is waived. Palm's WebOS currently only runs on Palm's Pre and Pixi phones; the Pre is due to be available in the UK from the 16th of October from O2.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

IDC: Organisations adopt open source to reduce expenses

Recent studies from IDC show that organisations in the Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) looking to reduce their operational expenses have begun to see open source software as a viable alternative.

Recent studies from IDC show that organisations in the Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) looking to reduce their operational expenses have begun to see open source software as a viable alternative.

Many Indonesian companies (34.5 per cent) intend to deploy new open source customer relationship management (CRM) applications over the next 18 months.

IDC provides market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. Their recent studies include 'Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) Open Source Software Adoption in 2009', and 'Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) Open Source Software Adoptions: Customer Case Study'.

Increased deployment in the coming months

The first report indicates that CRM applications, database management and virtualisation software are the most popular solutions. IDC said these three categories boast the highest percentage of respondents from each primary market that intend to use open source over the next 18 months.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

UK Needs To Be More Open To Open Source

During a discussion in Whitehall, industry experts concluded that the government needs to embrace open source more.

The UK is laging behind Europe and the US when it comes to the adoption of open source in government.

That's the conclusion reached today by a senior Ovum analyst during a roundtable discussion on the government’s use of open source software.

Laurent Lachal, Ovum's open source research director, said that, from the start, Europe has been interested in the adoption of open source but has since dragged its heels.

“In the US there was some sort of prejudice against open source but in effect they used it from the start, just didn’t talk about it. Now they are out," he said. "The UK started out like the US but didn’t really warm up to it until recently.”

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Study: Open Source Software Is Improving

The code analysis tools vendor, Coverity, has released the 2009 edition of the Coverity Scan Open Source Report[icon:pdf]. The survey, which was originally initiated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2006, examines the integrity and quality of open source software. The results are based on an analysis of 11 billion lines of code from 280 open source projects including Firefox, Linux, PHP, Ruby and Samba over three years. The analysis was carried out using Coverity's Scan service.

One of the study's conclusions is that the integrity, quality and security levels of open source code are improving. Since 2006, Coverity's Scan service has exposed more than 11,200 flaws in 180 submitted programs, allowing programmers to fix the detected flaws. The vendor has found that the number of flaws detected by static analysis has decreased by 16 per cent overall.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Microsoft's Open Source Strategist Is Leaving

IT MAY COME AS A SURPRISE to learn that Microsoft has any kind of open sauce software strategy aside from stomping on any bunch of commie hippies daring to offer free alternatives to its market-monopolising software, but it seems that one respected member of the Redmond braintrust has been working tirelessly for the last three years in an effort to make the software behemoth play nice with the other slightly grubby children in the playground.

Sam Ramji, who is currently the vocal spokesvole for all things open sourcery at Microsoft, is moving on to pastures new at the end of this month and he leaves behind an interesting legacy. More importantly his departure will leave a gap that might prove difficult to fill.

Sam's official brief was to create a strategy that enabled Micrososft to 'co-exist and thrive in a heterogeneous IT world' but his legacy goes way beyond that. The company originally had a single department that dealt with free open source (FOSS) software but, according to one Microsoft insider, it is now an important part of many product groups and strategies across the company.

Ramji's job was never going to be easy. The biggest software company on the planet had a nasty reputation for making life difficult for any upstart that tried to muscle in on its turf. There was never any real evidence that Microsoft would use strong-arm tactics to undermine fledgling companies, but when you have unlimited access to some of the world's most tenacious and ruthless lawyers and a bottomless pit of cash to throw at patent disputes, someone is gonna cry 'bully' sooner or later.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Open Source guru Sam Ramji quits Microsoft

Ramji, who was till date senior director of Platform Strategy of Microsoft, had joined the company about five years ago

BANGALORE, INDIA: Open Source Guru, Sam Ramji, has announced to leave Microsoft to join a cloud computing startup, CodePlex Foundation.

Ramji, who was till date senior director of Platform Strategy of Microsoft, had joined the company about five years ago. In his blog on (, he said, "After 5 great years at Microsoft I am moving on. I'll be joining a cloud computing startup later this month in Silicon Valley. It was a hard decision, as the time I've spent at that company has been both challenging and rewarding."

Explaining the reasons for parting ways, he said that it was all for personal reasons; wife and family. "I have decided to move our family back to California. I decided that I could not do justice to a corporate/worldwide position from afar, and that I could not bear to live away from my family and commute to Seattle five days a week."

Sharing his viewpoint about the open source, he said that, "I was certain that open source was an industry wave that Microsoft would not be able to ignore, and that it was getting closer to an inflection point.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Open source software can save India $2 bn

As Indian consumers and enterprises evaluate the option of upgrading to Microsoft’s much-touted operating system (OS) Windows 7, to be officially launched on October 22, the free and open source software (FOSS) community has fired yet another salvo at proprietary software.

In the year 2010, if FOSS is adopted at 50 per cent levels across the economy, India can save around $2 billion (around Rs 9,800 crore), suggests a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore. Even a very conservative estimate, notes the study, pegs the cost savings for use of FOSS on servers as an operating system or as an application at Rs 138 crore in 2010.

Moreover, anti-virus software sales in 2010 is likely to touch Rs 2,000 crore. This entire amount is a cost that can be avoided if FOSS products are adopted.

For instance, based on the projected sales of personal computers (desktops and notebooks), the study indicates that even if 50 per cent desktops are fitted with a FOSS operating system, the savings will be Rs 985 crore; if 70 per cent have FOSS, the savings will rise to around Rs 1,380 crore. The study, done with help from professors of the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, covered 20 organisations that have adopted FOSS.

Examples of cost savings with FOSS abound in the Indian context, asserts Prof Rahul De of the IIM-Bangalore who conducted the study. For instance, the Life Corporation of India, which — with an IT infrastructure of 3,500 servers and 30,000 desktops — saved about Rs 42 crore by adopting FOSS.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Free Open Source Software: Bliss for Windows Users

Windows and Open Source seem to be mutually exclusive to each other. To most of the people, these are two different spectrums that can not overlap and intermingle.

If we talk of them simultaneously, we may invite conntroversies but this is not the scenario anymore. The landscape for free open source software that Windows users can really vouch on is increasing day by day.

The article will walk you through the various open source software that are available for free and really useful on Windows interface:

Filezilla: Filezilla is a full featured free Windows FTP solution that Windows users can use to upload their files. It is a full featured service that Windows users can use free of charges for a productive process. Filezila offers you the ability to handle the batch transfers and most operations are drag and drop affair. With this FTP Solution, you can sync files from a distant location.

The FTP Solution is the most powerful FTP clients available but its not so friendly interface is the bottleneck for the product.

Open Office: Get going with word processing tools anywhere and anytime with the open source office productivity suite. Open offers full office suite including word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database tools. It gives tough competition to proprietary documenting tools from Microsoft and other SaaS offerings from Zoho and Google. The service is accessible from everywhere but unreliable import/export capabilities serve as the block. It is a powerful business productivity tool to save costs.

Firefox: It is the most sought web browser after Internet Explorer. This is one service that synonyms free open source. To people who are not so tech savvy, Internet Explorer is the best choice but to the generation who needs speed and faster access, Firefox is the best choice. The service is available for free downloads and is a good tool for use on Windows, if someone is looking for alternatives. Its customization abilities make it the most looked up browser.

TrueCrypt: The free encryption tool is at par with Microsoft BitLocker and in fact offers the same set of encryption utilities that users look for. It provides full disk encryption with key based recovery. On a broader note, it surpasses the security offerings of BitLocker with its support for many encryption protocols and more flexibility.

With its flexibility and compatibility with many protocols, the tool is a good free contender against Microsoft BitLocker.

7-Zip: The free open source compression software is at par with other paid compression tools like RAR and ACE. The package decompresses quickly and reliably. It offers everything that a user hunts in basic compression solution and is faster.

If you still confuse, Firefox and Linux for free open source, then you must try your hands on these free open source software for Windows; they are worthy enough for continual usage.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Red Hat Launches Distribution Effort With Open-Source ISVs

Red Hat is combining its portfolio of open-source software with applications from third-party ISVs and selling the bundles to customers through the channel under a program unveiled this week.

The move is designed to broaden the market for Red Hat software by developing more complete solutions for midsize companies, said Roger Egan, vice president of channel sales in North America, in an interview.

Red Hat launched the Catalyst Program at the Red Hat Summit & JBoss World conference in Chicago this week. The effort will include development of a social networking and collaboration Web portal to help build a community around the vendor's entire ecosystem, Egan said.

"The way we increase the sale of Red Hat products is to sell solutions," Egan said. "For us to really penetrate the midmarket, we really have to talk about solutions."

The Catalyst Program is in addition to Red Hat's main channel partner program. Two weeks ago, the company revamped that program, adding a new "premier business partner" designation to the existing Advanced and Ready partner tiers. The company wants to increase the amount of sales it makes through the channel from about 55 percent today to more than 70 percent.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Open Source Is Our Next Level: Microsoft

As open source is adopted on a range of platforms, understanding, engaging and supporting open source development will continue to be fundamental to enabling more customer choice, says Sam Ramji

BANGALORE, INDIA: Recently, Microsoft released 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux community. The code, which includes three Linux device drivers, has been submitted to the Linux kernel community for inclusion in the Linux tree.

The drivers will be available to the Linux community and customers alike, and will enhance the performance of the Linux operating system when virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V.

Sam Ramji, sr. director, Platform Strategy, MicrosoftSam Ramji, sr. director, Platform Strategy is responsible for developing sustainable partnerships with open source communities as part of his role as senior director of Platform Strategy in Microsoft's Server and Tools organization. This includes overseeing the operation of Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center (OSTC), which serves as a landing point for open source communities and companies interested in working with Microsoft, as well as a resource for Microsoft product groups interested in open source technology.

Tom Hanrahan, who also plays a critical role in Microsoft's day-to-day open source interoperability efforts, is the director of the OSTC. His team played a key role in the development of the drivers, and will manage their ongoing enhancement.

Sam Ramji and Tom Hanrahan talk about releasing Linux device driver code to the Linux community in an interview with CIOL. Excerpts:

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Using Open Source for IT

K P Perumal, D.G.M (MIS), TIIC maintained that most e-governance projects in the country do not meet expectations and that there is a long way to go before these initiatives truly benefit the common citizenry

The Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation Limited (TIIC) is a State Financial Corporation engaged in industrializing the state of Tamil Nadu through various financial schemes, including term lending. We commenced computerization in 1987 and have completed the IT enablement of our core operations such as loan disbursement, financial accounting and MIS, HRM, etc. However, these areas are not integrated with other business functions. Therefore, during 2008-09, the corporation took up integration of these functions on a centralized database concept similar to core-banking solution on an open source platform. The project is expected to be completed in 2010-11.

Implementation issues

The biggest challenges that TIIC faced with regard to IT projects was manpower planning and the availability of manpower on continual basis. Inconsistency in the management—in terms of deciding the scope of IT projects and frequent changes in management created a problem in maintaining the continuity of projects. Finally, data migration from one DBMS format to other DBMS format was yet another factor that was a challenge.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why Do Linux And Open Source Lovers Give Apple A Free Ride?

In its "Windows 7 Sins" campaign, the Free Software Foundation has labeled Windows 7 as "treacherous computing," and accuses Microsoft of such acts as "poisoning education." This is just the latest in a long line of attacks by open source lovers against Microsoft. But Apple is arguably even more closed than Microsoft, yet always gets a free ride from vociferous open source proponents. Can anyone explain this hypocrisy?

Computerworld reports that the group has

launched a campaign against Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming Windows 7 operating system, calling it "treacherous computing" that stealthily takes away rights from users.

At the Web site, the Boston-based FSF lists the seven "sins" that proprietary software such as Windows 7 commits against computer users.

Nowhere does the group mention Apple. Yet in important ways, Apple is more closed than Microsoft. Apple controls not just software, like Microsoft does, but its hardware as well. Try to sell a non-Apple computer with Apple's OS on it, and you'll get hauled into court by Apple lawyers. Apple has also taken legal action against bloggers who report on upcoming hardware and software releases. There's a long list of ways in which Apple is far more closed than Microsoft.

Yet the Free Software Foundation, and many other open source proponents, conveniently ignore these facts, and regularly attack Microsoft, while giving Apple a free ride. Apple, after all, has the "coolness" factor in its favor, and it's fashionable and easy to attack Microsoft.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Microsoft offers open source link for PHP, .Net

Microsoft's Developer and Platform Evangelism Interoperability team is introducing on Friday an open source project to bridge PHP and Microsoft's .Net programming model, Microsoft representatives said.

The company's PHP Toolkit for ADO.Net Data Services uses REST as a bridge between Microsoft's software platform and the popular PHP scripting language, said Peter Galli, Microsoft open source community manager, in a blog entry. With the kit, developed by Persistent Systems, PHP developers can more easily take advantage of ADO.Net Data Services, which are a set of features in the .Net Framework for building and consuming data services from the Web. The services previously were referred to as Project Astoria.

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Five Reasons to Hire Open Source Developers

Afraid an open source developer will be a liability to your organization? TechRepublic's Jack Wallen offers some reasons to think otherwise.

Open source has infiltrated many levels of IT over the past decade.

It has been a slow process; however, little by little, it has become a normality. And even though many companies are adopting open source software, they are hesitant to bring open source developers into the fold. Why is this?

Many larger companies do not place any value on open source applications, therefore they do not place any value in those who code the applications. Some companies are afraid that hiring an open source developer would be a liability--possibly reverse engineering their proprietary software and then releasing forked versions into the community.

Although these may sound like justifiable fears, they overlook some very important benefits that come with hiring open source developers.

Let's take a look at some good reasons to hire open source developers.

  1. You can see more than their resumes. Because the applications they work on are open, you can get a first-hand look at the code they write even before you do that first interview. Try to do that with a developer for a proprietary software developer.

    This will give you a fairly instant grasp of your interviewee's understanding of programming. You will know right away how well they write their code, if they use comments well, what tools they use, etc.

  2. Open source developers have had to think on their toes and patch the programs that Microsoft has (often times) intentionally broken. Think about the Samba team. For the longest time they would take a step forward and Microsoft would change something that would push them a couple of steps back.

    The Samba team had to be on their toes all the time to make changes so their software would continue to work with the latest version of Windows.

  3. Although this is not a universal truth, open source developers are very passionate about what they do. They have to be, otherwise why would they do it?

    If you hire an open source developer that has a passion for their work on open source projects, it might very well spill over into the work they do for you. Now I understand that many developers are passionate about their work (I've read Microserfs), but passion in the open source community runs a bit hotter than it does in the non-open source communities.

  4. Along with an open source developer you will enjoy open source support. This is a tricky one for sure. You can't hire a developer and then expect that developer not only to code but also serve as support for end users. But it is always nice when there is someone there to help support the IT department.

    That Apache server that someone installed a long time ago and has been running non-stop without upgrades because everyone is afraid to touch it? It could be given the attention it so deserves now.

  5. And like adopting any open source project, you will save money. Along with hiring a single open source developer, you now have the "support" of the entire open source community, should you need it. If you are working on an-in house project that ends up going to open source that project has the opportunity to scale in proportion to the size of the community supporting said project.

If that project catches the eye of the open source community, who knows, it may wind up being the next Samba or Apache.

I don't want anyone to get the impression that I think open source developers are better than closed source developers. But they do have different ideologies and they do go about things differently. For a long time companies avoided hiring open source developers for one reason or another, but I have and will always stand by my claim that open source developers make great additions to your IT staff.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Google Open Source Strategy Not Just A Patent Dodge

Matt Asay, whose views have become increasingly corporate as the recession has ground on, wrote yesterday that Google may be investing in open source as a patent dodge.

Of course, it wasn’t his opinion he was stating. He was just quoting the speculation of a Gartner analyst, Brian Prentice.

A politician couldn’t do that better. “I’m not saying my esteemed opponent is a duck. I’m just quoting an analyst who claims to have heard a quack.”

Fact is Google has been a long-time advocate of patent reform. And on this issue it is also, like the rest of the computer industry, a long-time loser.

Nothing Machiavellian is going on here. Google has been very honest about its views, and in its advocacy.

Google has lost this battle before because the pharmaceutical and medical device makers refuse to go along. Software patents are routinely issued that cover a wide range of programs. Drug and device patents cover specific compounds or devices. Their reach is more limited, and their protection more important in those industries.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Best Free Open Source Software for Windows

InfoWorld - To many, free open source software and Microsoft Windows seem to be mutually exclusive. After all, the open source development model is most closely associated with the Linux OS and, to a lesser degree, various Unix derivatives. So when you mention the two together, you often get some rather strange looks. This is a shame because there exists a growing landscape of compelling free and open source solutions just waiting for the intrepid Windows user.

You probably already know one of them well. Firefox has long stood as a prime example of how the open source development process can work to deliver a first-class solution that rivals, and in many ways surpasses, the best that the commercial side has to offer. However, it would be a mistake to make that arduous (for novices) trek to and stop there. Over the horizon are many more FOSS-on-Windows treasures waiting to be discovered, including tools that can improve your productivity, expand your lines of communication, and help keep you safe from threats along the way.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Why Choose Open Source?

re you thinking of creating a new online store or upgrading an existing one? Chances are you have already considered Open Source Software (OSS) or you already using it. If not then its time to get educated on the benefits of such an approach. This is the first in a series of blog posts on how to develop a comprehensive strategy for incorporating open source into your business. Here are a few benefits of following such a strategy.


Cost is probably the first reason that jumps to mind when you hear the term "open source." There are no license fees to worry about with OSS and there are typically only minor restrictions on how the software is used (depending on the license.) In many cases, the cost of the license is a pretty compelling reason to use an open source product, especially for companies on a budget.


Most commercial software vendors like to brag about the great support they offer. Support is one of those areas where companies make their money so you should be somewhat skeptical of what they are promising you. Many open source projects have very strong communities associated with them. They are filled with developers (and developer shops) that can help you with custom features, installation, etc. Its true that not all contractors are going to do a good job for you but the same can be said for the paid support staff of a commercial vendor.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Google Open Sources Parts of Google Wave's Code

In May, at the Google I/O developer conference, the search engine giant unveiled Google Wave -- a Web platform that integrates e-mail with IM, document sharing, for near real-time interaction and collaboration. Now, Google intends to open source the platform's protocol and a significant portion of its code. Google has also made the Operational Transform (OT) code open source to all.

The Operational Transform (OT) code supports the Google Wave platform, while the underlying protocol is supposedly a simple client/server prototype that uses the Wave protocol. Google Wave is based on the operational transformation architecture introduced by the Jupiter Collaboration System developed at Xerox PARC. What is does is it puts all shared content on the server. A client cannot edit content without sending an operation to the server. The operation cannot be sent unless the server allows the client to send one. According to Google, this method does require the server to keep multiple copies of content for each client.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Was Microsoft's Open Source Hand Forced?

The saga of Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT)'s contributions to the kernel just took another curious step. A key engineer with open source network-infrastructure company Vyatta indicated that Microsoft had no choice but to post the drivers as GPL. The implication is that they wouldn't have if no one had pointed it out to them.

The blog post, by "Linux Network Plumber" Stephen Hemminger, indicates that the original drivers were not GPL-compatible. They linked to statically-compiled, closed-source binaries through a kernel interface that was tagged in such a way that they should only be used by GPL-compatible (open source) modules. Dismayed, Stephen passed word back to Greg Kroah-Hartmann of Novell (NSDQ: NOVL), who in turn passed word on to Microsoft. The source code for the whole driver set was released four months later.

This has sparked a whole slew of speculation on whether or not Microsoft was testing the water to see what they could get away with. If nobody asked them to release the Hyper-V drivers as GPL, the thinking goes, would they have done so? Greg thought so, and said as much elsewhere. But when confronted with the fact that there are indeed many eyes on the situation, they did the right thing -- or, at the very least, the smart thing.

Perhaps they had always intended to release the whole thing as an open package, and were simply trying to get the timing right. The announcement was made more or less on top of OSCON this week -- along with some other open source related announcements from Microsoft, so perhaps once the ball got rolling internally to do this, they decided to simply talk about all of it at once. This sounds like a very Microsoftian thing to do, since it presents more of a feeling that the company is working in a single unified fashion (something they clearly pride themselves on).

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ten Reasons Open-Source Smart Phones Will Not Win Out

Apple gave the mobile industry a good kick in the pants when it announced the iPhone. Many mocked. We got Ed Colligan from Palm saying that the computer people weren't going to just step in and take this market - he is now in retirement having been replaced by ex-Apple employee Jon Rubinstein - who ironically can be described as a computer person. Steve Ballmer of course chimed in - he really SHOULD keep his mouth shut occasionally to say that the iPhone had "no chance of getting any significant market share" - WinMo is currently in a holding pattern waiting for the release of 6.5 while they have made the mistake of pre announcing 7 which is still a ways off. And finally 18 months into the iPhone release we have Elevation Partners Roger MacNamee declaring that "June 29, 2009, is the two-year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone. Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later. Think about it—if you bought the first iPhone, you bought it because you wanted the coolest product on the market. Your two-year contract has just expired. Look around. Tell me what they’re going to buy." Well Roger I think most of them lined up to buy the iPhone 3Gs. Apple shipped something like a million and a half of 'em in the first weekend while the pre managed around 50,000 for their launch.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Chrome OS to Bring More Linux IT Jobs?

The news has been abuzz about Google's upcoming OS. Many people have been arguing reasons for and against the system, its viability in such a market, and, if the OS is successful, even the morality of the company who may be trusted with even more private information than it already has. Well, here's another reason for Chrome OS: it could bring more jobs in the area of Linux IT.

With the worldwide recession, people in just about every industry are feeling or at least witnessing the effects in some way. According to CV Screen, a recruitment agency, the IT industry overall has lost 55% of its jobs in the last twelve months. On the other hand, open source jobs have been able to weather the storm a little easier; Linux IT jobs have only dropped by about 30% in that same twelve months, meaning that Linux IT seems to be the better way to go if one intends on keeping his or her occupation.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to Bring Open-Source Software into the Enterprise

Open-source software has gained growing acceptance in the enterprise. Once enterprises put in place the same governance, policy and support processes around open-source software as they do with proprietary software, there is no limit to how much open-source software they can bring into their organization. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Carol J. Rizzo offers five tips on how to bring open-source software into your organization in a way that maps to your corporate risk factors, making open-source software no more or less of a risk than proprietary software.

Over the past decade, I've served as CTO of three different Fortune 500 companies. In each of those companies, one of my primary responsibilities was to mitigate risks associated with technology. During the same period, open-source software has gained growing acceptance in the enterprise. Properly sourced, open-source software can bring so much to the table: lower cost solutions, high-quality software and all the other benefits that come from active and altruistic developer and user communities.

However, there is a long-established, risk-averse mindset within many large companies. Companies have established software procurement practices which depend upon an interaction and relationship with a vendor. This has slowed the adoption of open-source software which, similar to commercial software, still has to be adopted under certain guidelines.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Chrome OS Could Offend the Open Source Community

The announcement a few days ago of Google's new Chrome OS was simultaneously shocking and expected. It's a typically understated and quietly ambitious move on behalf of Google. It's also proof -- if it were needed -- that Google people are supremely smart. They have their sights firmly set on the future as well as the here and now.

Chrome OS is initially targeted at netbook computers but it's anticipated it will spread to more mainstream computing devices as time goes on. Like Intel's Moblin OS, Chrome OS is a proof of concept that will use the hothouse environment of netbook computing to grow and mature.

I'm reasonably sure that Chrome OS will offend the open source community. There may even be a major reaction against it. You might not see open source luminaries picketing the Googleplex (although I wouldn't be surprised), but there will almost certainly be a handful of inflammatory blog postings, and some very hot collars.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

How Open Source Is Growing Up

There is no doubt that free technologies, mainly open source software, are proving more popular both inside and outside the computer industry.

Behind this growing acceptance is a non-commercial movement of independent developers that are putting together the open source software that anyone can use.

Paul Allen, editor of ComputerActive magazine, said the defining feature of open source software was that the set of tools and systems were developed by enthusiasts rather than big companies.

But he added it should be treated as "free thinking rather than a free lunch" because it is not always free of charge.

Out of this movement have come fully-fledged programs, such as Open Office for e-mail, spreadsheets, word processing and presentations, and VLC for video, that were put together for free by a community of people.

"The entire source code for the software is made available to the community and anyone can modify it," said Phil Andrews from open source software provider Red Hat.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Microsoft Weighs Next-Phase In Open-Source Support

Microsoft's, shall we say, cautious engagement with open-source could mean frameworks like Spring and Hibernate are the next projects tuned to Windows.

Sam Ramji, director of the open-source development lab, in a recent interview pointed to the rise in what he called "micro frameworks" and their importance.

"It's something we have to be a lot closer to," Ramji told The Reg, noting Microsoft had held talks with the SpringSource company and "a couple of their other folks."

Ramji also hinted at deeper work in areas already visited by Microsoft, specifically in the realms of Apache and on PHP.

"There's a lot more work to do with Apache for sure. There are open-source communities like SpringSource we have to do a lot more work with - they have really rich Java and .NET sides. There's a lot more work to do with the PHP community. A lot of what we are into now is we've built up some great opportunities we can now cont to get deeper in," he said.

Ramji did not get into details.

Spring founder and SpringSource chief executive Rod Johnson separately pointed to areas for improvement between the ubiquitous Spring and Windows.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

223 Million Smartphones with Open Source by 2014

According to a recently published report coming from telecom consultants Juniper Research, the number of mobile phones that will be shipped on the market running under an open-source platform is expected to more than double by 2014, reaching 223 million units, up from the 106 million shipped this year.

The firm also says that open-source operating systems, coupled with the applications they carry, are playing an important role in the process of differentiation between new smartphones. At the same time, it seems that the platform present on the mobile phones is a key factor that determines the customers' options when choosing a new device.

As many of you might already know, Symbian has started its move towards becoming open source, which marks an important shift in the mobile operating system market. Moreover, another important step in the area has been made by Apple with the release of its App Store, an innovative move that started a trend in the market and also attracted a lot of users.

The research firm also says that the migration towards open source in the OS area is also an encouraging factor for developers, which come to display attractive applications. At the same time, the fact that more than 60 percent of the OS market is open source can be seen as a means to open new doors for innovation.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Ten Reasons Open-Source Smartphones Will Win Out

Open source brings far more benefits to the mobile market than just cost savings, says Jack Wallen.

The mobile industry is becoming interesting. We have finally reached a point where the smartphone is actually smart and the average user can gain serious benefits from using one. How did this come about? In a word: competition.

When the iPhone arrived on the scene, users scrambled to get their hands on it, and competitors scrambled to make a device that would have the same appeal. It has taken a while, but the competition has arrived. Android phones, Palm Pre, BlackBerry Bold — they are all outstanding entries into this market.

But two of those entries will, in my opinion, outshine the rest for one simple reason — open source. Why is open source going to help raise these phones above the competition? Here are 10 reasons.

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'Open source is more stable and better supported'

The CPM has long supported the free software movement and launched a poll website based on such software. The BJP's L K Advani recently threw his weight behind open source technologies. Jonathan Schwartz , CEO of Sun Microsystems, tells Sujit John that open source indeed is the future:

Is the rate of adoption of open source technologies growing?

It's accelerating rapidly. And with economic pressures mounting, free enterprise software is looking more and more compelling. Open office, our free office productivity suite, is now downloaded 1,00,000 times a day. A year ago, it was half that. Downloads of Glassfish, our open source application server, has also doubled in the last one year, and that of MySQL, the open source database, has increased 30 per cent. This is partly because of our awareness campaigns, but more because of the IT budget cuts, which push you to look for the best free software available to run your business systems.

Where do you see the fastest adoptions?

The fastest adoptions are in places where there's rapid economic expansion, good bandwidth and large student populations. We have seen some of the highest adoptions in India because of the first and third reasons. Universities are major seeding grounds for open source innovations. And when these students join the workforce or start their own companies, they disproportionately tend to select free software. We did a poll of 2,000 university students and found that less than 6 per cent knew Oracle database, but more than 90 per cent knew MySQL.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

At what stage of life is the open source industry?

Every industry goes through life stages, just like people.

At what stage is open source at, now, in the middle of 2009?

Matt Asay says we’re at the growth stage. He is cheered by Red Hat’s latest earnings. So am I.

But there is another way to look at this news. Is it possible we have already reached the consolidation phase?

Industry life stages are a little like the old joke about fame. Applied to me, they would be who is Dana, get me Dana, get me someone like Dana, get me a young Dana, and who is Dana? At age 54, I admit some may be looking for a young Dana. As to Matt, I think we want more people just like him.

Applied to industries, these stages would be the industry’s birth, its entrepreneurial period, its growth, consolidation, and the maturation of the market in the few strong hands left.

Or to put it more bluntly, what’s open source, get me open source, get me anything that sounds like open source, get me the big gun in open source, and who cares about open source.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

10 reasons why open source makes sense on smart phones

Open source brings a host of benefits to the mobile market, starting with cost savings. But as Jack Wallen explains, the advantages go much further - from better security to more customization options to more prolific application development.

The mobile industry is getting really interesting. We have finally reached a point where the smart phone is actually smart and the average user can gain serious benefits from its usage. How did this come about? In a word: Competition.

When the iPhone arrived on the scene, users scrambled to get their hands on Apple’s sexy gadget, and competitors scrambled to make a device that would have the same appeal. It’s taken a while, but the competition has arrived. Android phones, Palm Pre, Blackberry Bold — they are all outstanding entries into this market. But two of those entries will, in my opinion, outshine the rest for one simple reason — open source. Why is open source going to help raise these phones above the competition? I have 10 reasons why.

  1. Open standards
    With the iPhone, you do what Apple says, you follow Apple standards, and you use only Apple-approved apps (unless you jailbreak your phone). With both the Android-based phones and the Palm Pre, open standards are not just a bullet point or buzz phrase — open standards will be adhered to. And this appearance will have lasting effects. Software will be easier to develop, Web sites will load as expected (and will be easier to develop for the mobile device), and hardware accessories will be more readily available.

  2. More applications
    As it stands, the iPhone is the king of the app. It seems for just about everything, Apple has an “app for that.” But as the Android phones and the Pre begin to be more widely used, apps for those phones will multiply exponentially. Why? First, the application development process won’t be crippled by the same acceptance process Apple has. Anytime you want to develop an application for something, Apple will strike you down if it is something already native to the iPhone. You want a different browser on your iPhone? No luck. I look for mobile versions of Firefox and Chrome to both appear on the Pre and the Android-based phones. This will continue until one (or both) app stores surpass the Apple app store.

  3. Security

    Sooner or later, security is going to become a big issue with mobile computing. Apple has already shown that it can be painfully slow at releasing updates for the iPhone. Because of the open source nature of the competition, updates will not be so slow to arrive. So when a security hole or flaw is found, the update will find its way to the end user much faster. Of course, it’s not really just about the updates. The very foundation of the Pre and the Android phone is Linux based, so it’s going to enjoy a more fundamental security than, say, any of the Windows Mobile phones available. And although mobile phone security has yet to really become a widespread issue, with smart phones becoming the norm, it will be soon enough.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

How open source is beating the status quo

One of the biggest problems with open source is understanding what it means out in the real world. I'm not talking about understanding the actual technology. I'm talking about the impact of open source, how it is actually useful. What's clear to me is that open source is not an end in itself. Open source is an enabler. It's a catalyst. It allows other things to happen. It's the fulcrum upon which can be rested the lever that will move the world. But it isn't the lever itself.

Open source cannot change the status quo on its own. This has become entirely clear now, after 10 years of hype leading to effectively the exact same situation as when we started. No, open source needs to be combined with something else, and that's usually a technology. That technology can be the Web, in the case of Mozilla, or a hardware platform, in the case of the recent netbook revolution.

Below I look at some of the biggest challenges to the current computing status quo. In each case, open source is playing a part. It's only now, around 10 years after the open-source revolution was supposed to have begun, that we're actually seeing things really begin to happen.

In the examples below, it isn't the case that people make a choice to use open source. It's more the case that open source is the only choice because only open source offers what's needed.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Vancouver becomes role model for open source

Open source activists are praising the Open Data, Open Standards and Open Source motion passed by the City of Vancouver last month. City Councillor Andrea Reimer provides an update on what to expect next.

Open source activists are praising the Open Data, Open Standards and Open Source motion passed by the City of Vancouver last month.

Proposed by City Councillor Andrea Reimer, the motion encourages the adoption of open standards, promotes distribution of open data and places open source on equal footing with commercial software during procurement cycles.

Vancouver is the first municipality in Canada to pass a motion that embraces the "open" city concept. But "we took some of our lead from Toronto, who did a 1.0 version of a motion last fall and is looking at rolling some stuff out," said Reimer

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Open Source sensing initiative launched

PALO ALTO, USA: A new open source-style project to promote Open Source Sensing has been started, with the goal of bringing the benefits of a bottom-up, decentralized approach to sensing for security and environmental purposes.

"The intent of the project is to take advantage of advances in sensing to improve both security and the environment, while preserving, even strengthening, privacy, freedom, and civil liberties," said Christine Peterson, coiner of the term 'open source software'."

He added, "We have a unique opportunity to steer today's emerging sensing/surveillance technologies in positive directions, before they become widespread."

"Cheap, ubiquitous sensing has the potential to turn the worlds of privacy and civil rights upside-down," said Brad Templeton, a futurist and civil rights activist who chairs the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"No easy solution stands out, but the quest for an answer to these problems, by learning from the bottom-up approaches of the open source community, may provide some water in the desert," added Templeton.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

OpenSource World Offering Free Admission

Organizers of the upcoming OpenSource World conference broadened the event program and are offering free admission, hoping to attract more attendees in a time of slashed travel budgets and increased competition from similar shows.

The conference was previously known as LinuxWorld. This year's event is scheduled for Aug. 11-13 in San Francisco's Moscone Center.

Key topics will include Drizzle, a database project based on the MySQL codebase, mobile development and security, said event chairman Don Marti. The CloudWorld and Next Generation Data Center events will run concurrently with OpenSource World.

But perhaps the most telling change is the decision to drop admission charges for qualified IT professionals and to instead gain revenue solely from sponsorships.

Organizers have implemented a qualifying process in order to weed out marketing staffers from vendors that aren't exhibiting at the show, but might be interested in attending to check out the competition, Marti said.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Winning the war won't secure peace for open source

Open source may have won the argument, but that does not mean the world will now change, says Mark Taylor.

According to Mahatma Gandhi: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win"*. So by that reckoning, it must be pretty much 'job done' for free software.

Over the past few months I have experienced the eerie sensation that no-one is fighting us any more. Not only are audiences polite, enthusiastic and well informed at conferences, they are almost all using free software already.

What happened to the critics? Even the neo-proprietarists, Microsoft and — most surprising of all — the government go out of their way to pay lip service to free software these days.

And therein lies the problem. What Gandhi failed to mention is that it is not inevitable that you win as soon as they stop fighting you. Put another way, advocacy needs to evolve once the argument is won.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Open Source Tool to Simplify Mobile Programmes

Sun Microsystems has partnered with Orange, the Vodafone Group and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications in an endeavour to enable software developers deliver Java programmes on a mobile phone.

The vendor launched the open-source testing tool at its annual JavaOne developer conference in San Francisco.

A software developer has to test the programme many times before it reaches the consumer. These tests are very expensive, and a single test can cost about $ 200. The price may escalate depending on the programme.

The tool is a part of Sun's initiative to simplify the process and reduce the number of tests. The company simultaneously enhanced the five year old Java Verified programme used to certify Java ME programmes on mobile devices.

Emergence of Apple's iPhone and Google's Android has eclipsed the use of Java on mobile phones. With this new initiative unveiled for the developers, Sun hopes to reclaim lost ground.

Source :

Friday, May 29, 2009

Why invest in open source management apps now?

Open source management technology has advanced to handle enterprise environments

Cost isn’t the only reason IT managers should consider open source IT management applications, industry watchers say, as developers and communities continue to crank out enterprise-scale features, security and support for the free tools.

Software maturity, support packages and customization capabilities are driving more enterprise and SMB IT organizations to consider open source as a viable alternative to a commercial network management platform, according to Forrester Research.

“With shrinking IT budgets and a continued need to control IT environments, the use of open source solutions to manage infrastructure and operations is no longer just an interesting experience but a viable alternative for enterprises of all sizes,” writes Evelyn Hubbert, senior analyst at Forrester Research in a recent report. “Typically open source solutions are more lightweight and can be a real alternative for managing your IT environment. End users in both midsize and enterprise markets are looking at these tools as a way to save operational expenses.”

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Open Source Mobile Phone Targets Business Users: Report

Even with the huge market disruption that the iPhone 3G created when Apple (News - Alert) unveiled it last summer, creating a virtual store that’s spawned mimics from other device vendors (including Nokia), more and more smartphone makers appear to be targeting the business users specifically as they roll out new models.

We’ve heard reports about how some companies are planning to introduce the iPhone (News - Alert) as a business device – yet RIM’s BlackBerry Curve outsold the iPhone in the first quarter of this year (and BlackBerry models generally are associated with business users).

And officials with Sprint (News - Alert) – rival of iPhone carrier AT&T – said in no uncertain terms earlier this month that the Palm Pre (pictured below) will signal the end of the so-called “smartphone sandwich” – a phenomenon that leads users to keep an iPhone for personal use and BlackBerry for business.

“People have made compromises,” Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse said at an industry event. “(The Pre) is truly both a consumer and business device.”

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Should Microsoft's CEO summit have been 'open source'?

The biggest business story in Seattle this week occurred on the Microsoft campus -- and the media barely covered it. They weren't allowed to.

The Microsoft CEO Summit drew more than 105 CEOs representing 25 countries. Altogether, these titans represent about $2.9 trillion in annual sales and 8.9 million employees.

Among the names released were CEO Jeff Bezos, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch. The three-day meeting began May 19 at the Microsoft campus in Redmond.

If these leaders were elected officeholders meeting as a public body, their gathering would have probably been subject to open meetings laws. There's no such sunshine law for the meetings of leaders of private companies.

Microsoft has been hosting these summits for 13 years, and they've become a world-class forum.

The event was news in itself even though no news was announced. They discussed the convergence of technology, business issues, economic trends and making the world a better place. The exact agenda was private.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Linux development platform takes on license compliance

Embedded Alley has upgraded its "Development System for Linux" with tools to create software Bills of Materials, track open source components, trace binary sources, and help OEMs comply with open source license obligations. The new platform also adds support for the Freescale i.MX31 PDK (pictured).

EA's tracking system for open source licensing compliance is claimed to be a first for a Linux development platform. The tracking tools reflect the growing cost of license compliance for OEMs, as well as the frustration developers have with hunting down sources and licensing different components used in open source projects.

"Device manufacturers are using more and more open source packages, and with the number of stacks proliferating, each with different licensing, it becomes more challenging to track," said EA's COO, Matthew Locke, in an interview, "There's a need for a greater level of sophistication of these compliance tools, helping people through production and beyond, and helping OEMs comply with licensing obligations. We're combining development tools with best practices."

The focus on component tracking and licensing appears to be part of a trend in Linux development platforms. With key technological components now in place, the platforms are increasingly focusing on procedural and supply chain issues aimed at reducing development time. For example, the upcoming MontaVista Linux 6 will offer different versions based on various semiconductor distributions, and it provides a new build platform and content server for keeping track of open source components. Timesys has also focused on tracking issues with its DIY-oriented LinuxLink 3.0 subscription service. (See farther below for more on the new license compliance features, as well as additional comments from Locke.)

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Open Source Alternatives to Popular Software

Before you pay another cent to Microsoft or another software publisher, read this article by Eric Geier to discover whether you can use a free open source application instead. Just about every commercial app you use on a daily basis will have an open source alternative, whether you use Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux.

Whether you are looking out for your small business or personal computing needs, the open source community delivers robust applications that are completely free. Not only can you typically use these applications on Linux, the open source operating system, but many are also available to run on Windows and Mac OS X. Using these software programs can save you loads of money. You'll soon be on your way to a free and open computing experience.

Office and Productivity Software

One of the first things you are probably wondering about is the open source alternative to Microsoft Office. No worry needed here— (OOo) has been around for many years as a feasible substitution for just about any operating system. It includes Writer for word processing, Calc for spreadsheets, Impress for presentations, Draw for illustrating, and Base for databases.

OOo is pretty much a copy of MS Office 2003, with a few exceptions. Though separately available, OOo doesn't include an email client or other misc office-type applications that you might see from one of Microsoft's premium office suites. Plus some features are lacking, such as templates, clip art, and grammar checking. However with some searching on Google or browsing through my writings, you'll find some workarounds.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Microsoft preps for open-source cloud apps

Microsoft has unveiled a toolkit for PHP developers building open-source applications that help fluff its planned Azure cloud.

PHPAzure is a software development kit (SDK) for programming to both Windows Azure and the underlying SQL-like Windows Azure Storage service's blobs, tables, and queues. PHPAzure is an open-source project developed with RealDolmen and hosted on Microsoft's CodePlex site.

The PHPAzure community technology preview (CTP) was unveiled by Microsoft India and is due for completion on August 21. Azure is itself currently in CTP and has been promised for delivery by the end of this year.

PHP is one of the web's most popular programming languages, running more than 20 million sites. It's also used in conjunction with Apache, Linux, and MySQL - a web server, operating system, and database combo that Microsoft is in competition with.

Microsoft's recognized the importance of winning over PHP developers and has worked with Zend Technologies to fine-tune PHP to Windows until now. The risk was developers would otherwise build their PHP applications on Windows and deploy on Linux instead.

With PHP being a default web-programming environment, Microsoft has accepted it must embrace the language as a way to populate Azure with applications, moving it from a standing stop.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Open Source Group Challenges Microsoft Patents

The Open Invention Network, an industry organization that protects Linux by acquiring and licensing open-source patents, is taking Microsoft to task over three patents related to its now-settled lawsuit against in car GPS device maker TomTom.

Microsoft sued TomTom in February for allegedly infringing on eight of its patents, three of which pertained to TomTom's implementation of the Linux kernel. At the time, Microsoft officials said the suit wasn't the start of a patent enforcement campaign against Linux, but didn't rule out further lawsuits.

OIN this week posted details on the three patents -- U.S. patents 5579517, 5758352 and 6256642 -- to a section of its Linux Defenders website in an attempt to get community members searching for prior art that could prevent Microsoft from wielding them in future lawsuits.

Microsoft has been known to get defendants to sign non-disclosure agreements and then coerce them into settlements. Since Microsoft refuses to offer specifics on which of its patents Linux specifically violates, industry experts have speculated that the software giant's claims might not hold up in court.

TomTom ended up paying Microsoft an unspecified amount for coverage related to the patents. As has been the case with past Microsoft lawsuit targets, TomTom decided to pay up rather than fight a lengthly legal battle.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft has a different view of what transpired. Microsoft says it has only used legal means to enforce its patents on two other occasions: In an August 2006 suit against Belkin, and in a July 2008 suit against Taiwan-based Primax Electronics.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Apache better than GPL for open-source business?

I have spent years advocating the GNU General Public License as the optimal open-source license for commercial open source.

Roughly nine years after I first became a fan of the GPL, I think I've been wrong.

My admiration for the GPL mostly stemmed from its ability to mimic, but then invert, proprietary licensing. The GPL is like opening a cannister of radioactive waste: while your competitors can touch it, you're dead certain that they won't.

Given that openness is increasingly a winning business model--if not the winning business model, as Red Hat executive Michael Tiemann argues--one has to wonder if pretending to be open through the GPL accomplishes as much as fully opening up through Apache-style licensing would.

Open-source luminary Eric Raymond is pretty clear on this point:

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Just how strong is Red Hat's open-source business?

Red Hat stands alone as the only significant public open-source company. Is this a testament to its execution, or is it a hint that open source is not well-suited to big business?

While I believe that open source will increasingly be the heart of many big technology businesses, it will almost certainly feed new entrants to markets, not incumbent vendors.

Looking at Red Hat's report on its most recent fiscal year (FY 2009), however, suggests that for these new entrants, open source can be a very profitable business indeed. I've already reported on the high-level financial results.

What is particularly intriguing is the data behind those results:

  • Red Hat is forecasting $720 million to $735 million in FY 2010, an annual growth rate of 10 percent to 13 percent over 2009.
  • 40,000 new Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers in FY 2009, the "vast majority of which are...customers that are starting off small." Lots of room to grow, in other words.
  • Nearly half of Red Hat's top-100 renewal customers upgraded to or increased the number of RHEL advanced platform servers in their Data Centers. (In its fiscal Q4 2009, Red Hat renewed each of its top-25 contracts up for renewal at 132 percent of the prior year's value.)
  • 30 percent of Red Hat's largest 30 deals included a Middleware (JBoss, usually) component.
  • Average contract lasts 23 to 24 months, with pricing remaining "consistent for the last several years."
  • Channel bookings grew 23 percent in FY 2009, while Red Hat more than doubled its number of partners to 4,500.
  • In fiscal Q4 2009, Red Hat closed two large deals, one of which was a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal that represented its largest conversion from free-to-paid (a key initiative for FY 2010) as well as a six-figure conversion deal with another customer.
  • 57 percent of bookings came from the Americas, 28 percent from EMEA, and 15 percent from APAC.
  • The recession has not "changed the length of [Red Hat's] sales cycle in any meaningful way."
  • Subscription gross margin improved 60 basis points over the year to approximately 94 percent while training and services gross margin improved approximately 280 basis points from Q4 last year, driven mainly by better utilization and higher gross margins from the Amentra business.
  • Red Hat ended its fiscal year with $846 million in cash and investments and is now debt free.
One of Red Hat's big initiatives for FY 2010 is to increase the rate of adoption of its for-fee products from prospects still using for-free versions of its software (Fedora, CentOS, etc.), a process it only started in late 2008. As Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst notes in the earnings call, enterprises often find it "very expensive" to support themselves. As the data above suggests, Red Hat is getting better at convincing them to move to Red Hat's subscription offerings.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oracle faces culture shock in Sun's open source world

Larry Ellison is a famously activist exponent of competitive strategy. An avowed student of Sun Tzu's Art of War, the Oracle chief executive has long followed an approach that sets Oracle's interests against those of its main rivals, with Microsoft, IBM and SAP cast as the enemy.

With the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, however, he is about to walk on to new terrain where some of the methods that defined Oracle's traditional approach to strategy no longer apply.

Sun's main software assets - and the jewels for which Mr Ellison said this week that he had agreed to pay $7.4bn for the company - are all closely tied to the open source world: the Java programming language and development tools, which are partly open source, as well as the Solaris operating system and MySQL database.

That makes them unlike the roughly 200 software properties that Mr Ellison has acquired in the past. They are made freely available, and rely partly on the efforts of a wider group of developers to extend and support them. Their future success, in fact, relies on a technology community that stretches well beyond Oracle - and includes companies such as IBM, which also relies on Java as a core technology

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Red Hat, Synnex Enlist Open-Source ISVs for Midmarket Channel Push

Red Hat wants a bigger piece of the midmarket, and it's enlisting the channel expertise of Synnex (NYSE:SNX) to help open-source software to gain more traction in this lucrative market segment.

On Tuesday, Red Hat introduced the Open Source Channel Alliance, a group of 9 open-source ISVs that have signed distribution deals with Synnex to bring a wide range of applications to market through the distributor's network of VARs and integrators.

Roger Egan, vice president of North American Channels for Red Hat, said the goal of the alliance is to extend the flexibility and cost savings of open-source software to a broader audience, as well as to move from a point-product focus to one more attuned with what he defined as "solution stacks."

Founding members of the Open Source Channel Alliance include: Alfresco (content management), EnterpriseDB (database), Ingres (database), Jaspersoft (business intelligence), Likewise (identity management), Pentaho (business intelligence), Zmanda (backup and recovery), Zenoss (network and systems monitoring) and Zimbra (e-mail and calendar groupware).

"We've come to learn that we have jewels in the relationships we've nurtured with open-source ISVs," Egan said. "We're trying to take our relationships and knowledge of channel and extend that to them."

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

wikiHow Launches Open Source iPhone App

From the folks at and Keishi Hattori comes a new application for the iPhone. wikiHow is ‘the world’s how-to manual’, and thanks to this new free app, you can load up a plethora of helpful articles and how-to’s no matter where you might be. Search, browse or store more than 50,000 how-to articles for online or offline viewing. There’s a ‘how-to of the day’, a bookmarking feature, and the app will even let you view YouTube videos that accompany some articles.

wikiHow comes complete with a bonus ‘wikiHow Survival Kit’, to get you through some of life’s most difficult situations… Including life saving techniques, medical treatment tips and how-to’s, how to build a fire, how to navigate without a compass, and my personal favorite… How to regain control of a spooked Camel. You never know when you might need such info, and heck, it’s just solid info everyone should know anyway!

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Reaping the benefits of Open Source

A few months ago, a Gartner report, The State of Open Source 2008, mentioned: “By 2012, more than 90 percent of enterprises will use Open Source in direct or embedded forms.” The report added: “Open Source is a phenomenon with a broad impact. Chances are, if you do not think you use it, then you use it; and if you think you do use it, then you use lots more of it than you know.”

Why is Open Source becoming so pervasive? The reason is that we are now entering an era of Collaborative Innovation. Open Source Software (OSS) is the leading example of this trend, but the Open Source development model based on collaboration, community and the shared ownership of knowledge is rapidly expanding to other areas like content (Wikipedia), medicine (Open Source Drug Discovery), scientific publishing (Public Library of Science) and other areas of society.

With 1.5 billion people online, the Internet, which is the largest collaborative platform that mankind has ever seen, has enabled OSS like Linux, Apache, Mozilla Firefox, Open Office and others to flourish. In the next couple of years another 600 million people will join the Internet. Thus the trend towards increasing collaboration is only set to grow and this is reflected in the explosive growth of Open Source projects on websites like and other collaborative websites.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

CIOs committing more to Red Hat, open source

Like begets like, and in the software world, open-source purchasing begets even more open-source purchases.

At least, that's the lesson I take from a recent Piper Jaffray report that suggests JBoss customers plan to invest heavily in Red Hat technology.

Not only are JBoss customers more likely to buy deeply into Red Hat, which is not surprising (though for Red Hat, it must be gratifying), but they're also more likely to buy MySQL and less likely to buy from Microsoft.

This can't be good news for Microsoft, and it probably is one reason the company has become so aggressive with its intellectual-property portfolio.

The data also underscores IT's natural inclination to buy into open source in ever-increasing degrees. Once an enterprise has one good experience with open source, it wants to have many more, as this chart from IDC suggests:

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Friday, April 3, 2009

The future of open source Java development under IBM

If IBM owns Java ...

The Sun-IBM merger hasn't been finalized but there's little doubt this week that the deal is coming together. Many are looking for clues as to how open source, Java-based development will change -- and change it will -- under the Big Blue Sun.

In the last few years, Sun Microsystems has warmed up to open-sourcing its software. In 2006, Sun opened up Java, and in 2007 it open-sourced most of Solaris under the GPLv3. Smaller, side projects, like NetBeans, the Java-based IDE were open-sourced as early as 2001. Sun has also long allowed developers at least some say in the progress of Java, through the Java Community Process. Historically, though, Sun has had a well-documented love/hate relationship with open source.

IBM has had a closer relationship with open source, but it wasn't always that way. In December of 1998, IBM realized that it needed to take a closer look at open source thanks to its customers beginning to pick up Linux. Before that, according to Peter G. Capek of IBM Research, IBM handled open source on a case-by-case basis.

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Microsoft Open to Open Source?

That's what one Redmond exec says. Plus, Microsoft hits Apple on its price tag, certification as a game, and more.

When it comes to open source, Microsoft has a balancing act that would be tough for Philippe Petite. Redmond must pacify shareholders by hanging onto commercial licensing, but it can't totally irritate open source-friendly IT pros. If Microsoft is too much of an open source enemy, IT can turn their backs and move to Linux, MySQL and Apache in droves.

Microsoft argues that it's on the right open source track. It believes that open sourcers should respect Microsoft patents, and conversely Microsoft should interoperate with key open tools.

Recently, Microsoft exec Robert Youngjohns took to the podium at the Open Source Business Conference to argue Redmond's case. Youngjohns pointed to support of open file formats and PHP on Windows as examples of the new open source d├ętente.

Mac Attack
I am a fan of the Mac for its stability, elegance and sheer fun factor. But there's one thing I hate: the price. I can buy an Acer netbook for around 300 bills -- less than a third of the price of the cheapest mobile Mac.

This reality is not lost on Microsoft, which recently launched an ad attacking the economics of Apple ownership. I haven't seen the commercial yet, but apparently Lauren, a young woman, wants a laptop with a 17-inch screen. She goes to the Apple store and quickly finds the only screen she can afford is four inches too small. Instead of uttering the words I might ("$6%%8&!!!!") she deadpans that she's "just not cool enough" for the Mac. Instead, she buys an HP for $700.

My daughter is a young woman named Lauren. She had an HP but ditched it for a MacBook, and so far my Lauren has never looked back. Somehow, I just couldn't talk her into that $300 Acer netbook!

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

ASP.Net MVC 1.0 now open source

Rails-like .Net Web system can now be used on Linux with Mono

According to Scott Guthrie, ASP.Net MVC 1.0 has now been released as open source code under the Microsoft Public License (MS-PL). Whoo-hoo!

For those of you who may be baffled by my enthusiasm, it is twofold. First, ASP.Net MVC brings much of the spirit of Ruby on Rails development to ASP.Net. Second, open-sourcing ASP.Net MVC means that it can easily be used on Linux with Mono.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Sun's McNealy touts open source, bashes Oracle and IBM

BOSTON -- With rumors of a takeover by IBM swirling around him, Sun Microsytems' chairman Scott McNealy tried to pitch a room of customers this week on the idea that Sun is a wily innovator whose software and hardware are far less costly than proprietary solutions from Oracle and IBM. But McNealy had little to offer loyal customers with Sun's legacy Sparc hardware.

McNealy touted Sun's vision of cloud computing and the folly of "best of breed" to about 200 customers and partners. "Frankenstein was best of breed, and every time he keels over, IBM comes in with $100,000 shock paddles," McNealy said. Sun's goal "is to get you out of the kitchen. We build data centers; you do whatever you do," adding that "building a data center out of 40 different parts is last year's strategy."

Open source gets a plug

Like the man who succeeded him at the job of CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, McNealy also loudly beat the open source drum, but in his own inimitable style. Open source code is less buggy and more stable than proprietary code and insulates companies from the "shelf-life-of-a-banana problem" in which technology becomes obsolete 18 months after it was released.

And because the code is available for all to see, open source software such as Sun's MySQL offers a "low barrier to exit." Compare that with Oracle's database and applications. "We all know the first hit of heroin is free -- in fact, Oracle will probably pay you to roll up your sleeve," McNealy said. But sooner rather than later, your data is trapped in proprietary Oracle databases, and "contract negotiations become contract explanations."

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Open-source firms urged to go on legal offensive

Open-source software companies are missing out on a relatively inexpensive way to fight concerns about patent liability, according to an attorney who spoke at an open-source conference in San Francisco this week.

More open-source companies should be asking the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to re-examine patents that may pose a threat to them, as a cheaper, sometimes more suitable alternative to waging a patent lawsuit, said Van Lindberg, an attorney with Haynes and Boone LLP, who spoke at Infoworld's Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco.

Fears about patent litigation have plagued both open-source companies and their customers, and stem from patent trolls as well as competitors. Microsoft, for example, has claimed that Linux may violate hundreds of its patents. It is currently suing GPS maker TomTom, partly over TomTom's use of the Linux kernel in its products.

Filing a re-examination request involves arguing to the USPTO that a patent should not have been granted in the first place, often because the technology was too obvious or because prior art, or previous examples of the technology, existed. Some open-source groups are using this method already, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation with its Patent Busting Project. But the strategy is underutilized by the open-source community, Lindberg said.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Sun CTO Details Progress of Open-source Java

Sun Microsystems Inc. last week unveiled a portal that will detail its efforts to make its Java programming language available as open-source code. After the announcement, Bob Brewin, Sun's chief technology officer for software, talked to Computerworld about the state of the company's effort to make Java SE (Standard Edition) code available to the open-source community.

What is the goal for the new portal? The goal for the portal is transparency. We want to make sure that this is not just open-source, but an open community. There have been open-source projects in the past industrywide where it is just, "Here is our source, do what you want." The only way we can do that is to really engage the existing open-source communities out there and ask them for their advice, guidance and opinions.

Where does the effort to open the source code of Java stand today? We are currently planning to release significant pieces of our functionality in the fall. A Java programming compiler and the HotSpot Virtual Machine are examples. As we make sure the source is ready to go ... we'll begin releasing code over a period of time until we get the entire body out there.

What types of problems have you encountered so far in this effort? Identifying the various intellectual property encumbrances that might exist. An example is, within the graphics library, there are font rasterizers which allow you to represent characters on the screen. We have licensed those from other companies. We may ship other parts of the platform as open-source, and [the rasterizer] will ship as a binary. Once Java is open-sourced, the ideal situation is the community can help us create a replacement technology for it by developing it in open-source.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Recession Is Driving Open Source Uptake, Says Novell

But some open source experts claim the software is about more than saving money

Companies are turning to community developed software in larger numbers as the recession continues to bite into IT budgets, according to open source specialist Novell.

More than half of IT managers plan to "accelerate Linux adoption" this year, according to a survey carried out by research firm IDC, and sponsored by Novell, the former proprietary software maker which acquired the Suse Linux distribution in November 2003.

More than 72 percent of respondents are planning or have already decided to increase use of Linux on servers, according to a report on the research, which surveyed 300 senior IT professionals from organisations with more than 100 staff.

Surprisingly, the survey also showed that around 68 percent of companies were also planning to increase their use of Linux on the desktop. However given that existing uptake of the open source OS on the desktop is extremely low, it is not clear what this would translate into in terms of market share - although the rise of netbooks has seen interest in open source notebooks increase.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Microsoft Rubs Shoulders with Open Source

Microsoft and the Creative Commons turned up at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference and released an Ontology Add-in for Microsoft Office Word 2007 so authors can add scientific hyperlinks as semantic annotations, drawn from ontologies, to their documents and research papers.

Ontologies are shared vocabularies created and maintained by different academic domains to model their fields of study.

The Add-in is supposed to make it easier for scientists to link their documents to the web in what Microsoft called "a meaningful way."

Microsoft remarks that "the nuggets of information necessary for science to progress are often hard to find, submerged deep within the web, or within databases that can't be easily accessed or integrated. As a result, many scientists today work in relative isolation, follow blind alleys and unnecessarily duplicate existing research."

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Microsoft Releases Open Tools for Scientific Research

Information necessary for science to progress can be hard to find. Addressing this challenge for researchers, Microsoft and Creative Commons have announced the release of the Ontology Add-in for Microsoft Office Word 2007 that will enable authors to easily add scientific hyperlinks as semantic annotations, drawn from ontologies, to their documents and research papers. Ontologies are shared vocabularies created and maintained by different academic domains to model their fields of study.

This Add-in will make it easier for scientists to link their documents to the Web in a meaningful way. Deployed on a wide scale, ontology-enabled scientific publishing will provide a Web boost to scientific discovery.

Science Commons, a division of Creative Commons, is incubating the adoption of semantic scientific publishing through creation of a database of ontologies and development of supporting technical standards and code. Microsoft Research has built a technology bridge to enable the link between Microsoft Office Word 2007 and these ontologies.

"The Web is broken for scientific researchers -- full of hyperlinks of scholarly articles, but it is nearly impossible for us to find what we need," said John Wilbanks, vice president for Science at Creative Commons. "The semantic Web tool will help bridge the gap between basic research and meaningful discovery, unlocking the value of research so more people can benefit from the work scientists are doing."

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Open source to help Android overtake iPhone by 2012

Google’s Android mobile platform will overtake Apple’s iPhone OS X within three years, Informa has predicted.

The analyst group said Android’s open source nature will give it a boost over Apple’s darling, but Nokia’s Symbian will maintain its lead over Android as well as challengers Linux and Microsoft.

“The decision to move the Symbian platform to open source is crucial in maintaining its leadership over Android, Linux and Microsoft,” said Gavin Byrne, a research analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, in a statement. This is largely because of the increasing importance of developers in the mobile industry, as the value in the market moves from handsets to software to now to applications.

Symbian’s fall in popularity from 65 per cent market share in 2007 to 49 per cent last year reflects a poor showing by Nokia’s smartphone lineup as well as the platforms of its rivals.

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