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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