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.

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