Opensource

Ubuntu Most Hated Community Distro

What Microsoft’s inept Linux bashing campaign failed to do might just be achieved by the anonymous blogger who is writing the Linux Hater’s Blog. I love reading it not because I hate Linux and if you read the comments on that blog, many are Linux users themselves. Ubuntu has just been voted the most hated Community distro on that site.

Whilst reading that blog is very funny, it’s also a great insight into the failings of Linux (mostly as a desktop solution). When I read it, I can empathise with the issues and a realisation that I had mostly brushed under the carpet these things. Why worry about these things when I could bask in the fact that it was all free!

Good old Apple, takes an open source BSD based OS, customises the hell out it without releasing back to anyone, makes a ton of money from it and completely escapes the FSF backlash, whilst leaving Microsoft to take the heat! Steve Jobs is a genius!

You might think that the conversion is complete, that I’ve drunk far too much Koolade and I was even accused of "fanaticism" this week! I like to think of it as "passion" :-)

Does the GPL mean no Commerciality

I was reading Viral Tarpara’s blog post about Facebook possibly Open Sourcing its code. Viral hoped that they didn’t choose the GPL because it would stop others commercialising derivative works. This is quite a common perception and something not helped by the Free Software Foundation itself. But is this true? Now, only a Judge and a Court of Law can actually make those decisions about the provisions of a License. What we do know is that GPL Software is commercialised and so are derivative works. Linux is an example of GPL Software and which is incorporated with proprietary code such as device drivers and sold on a subscription basis by companies such as Red Hat and Novell. Last time I looked these were fairly commercial organisations. There is a great book entitled “Open Source Licensing” by Lawrence Rosen which looks at these issues from a legal perspective. It is true that the FSF has not wanted the linking of non GPL code with GPL code but as Rosen points out in his book, what matters is the actual terms and conditions which don’t directly preclude this happening and also having this tested in Court and therefore the Precdents that would go with it. Linus Torvalds has been fairly vocal on this and wanting the freedom to incorporate/link non-GPL and GPL code.

The GNU project was started back in 1984 to create a Unix Like Operating System but the kernel was never completed and so the GNU suite of programmes were used with the Linux Kernel and Linux is a trademark owned by Linus Torvalds who has chosen to license the Linux Kernel using the GPL v2. It’s strange that an organisation like the FSF promoting Software Freedom, doesn’t want people to have the freedom to chose the Licenses under which a system/product is put together.

The Opennesss Continues at Microsoft

If you read my blog then you know I have been critical sometimes of the decisions that Microsoft have taken in the past about how open it has been about certain aspects of its technology. Dave and myself have discussed and disagreed about this a number of times but I’ve always respected his point of view. Also, you’ll know that I’m fan of the Port25 guys who are quietly working away on Open Source/Linux and interoperability issues. They have been reaching out to some of the Open Source communities as well.

I don’t think Microsoft is evil and it’s been a journey for me to learn more about it. I believe Microsoft is learning to be more open and seeing Open Source increasingly as an opportunity than a threat. I think it has learnt from its legal battles with the US Government and the EC. It was apparent to me from it’s rather gracious acceptance of the final EC decision.

The Port 25 guys have a blog post highlighting a new Strategic plan to make much of its documentation , APIs and protocols for many of its major technologies available to developers for free. This is great news!

However, interestingly this news has not been highlighted on any other Microsoft blog. In fact I can’t remember anyone else even talking about the work of things like the Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft. When people at Microsoft talk about being able to convey better their own story, yet they fail to talk about their own good work in trying to be more open and work collaboratively.

Ah well, maybe I’ll have to keep highlighting this good work for Microsoft!!!

JP Rangaswami on open source in the enterprise & the future of information

I’ve been following JP Rangaswami on Twitter and his blog ConfusedOfCalcutta and have realised very quickly what great insight he brings. He’s got an impressive background working with Corporates, is a former CIO of investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and is now CIO of Global Services at BT.

This video of him talking about his Open Source experiences at DrKW is very interesting and shows where Open Source has really established itself i.e. The Enterprise. Interesting also because BT has been busy signing deals/agreements with Microsoft.

He is a very unique CIO in my view who is actually actively being innovative and open minded about new technologies. But new technologies for the sake of it are nothing, you have to know how to deliver business value using the technology, which he seems to have the knack of doing.

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Interoperability is Good

Gone are the days where you competed on the basis that you kept your protocols and communication mechanisms a secret. So, it was good to see that Microsoft is going to make it’s Windows Protocols available to Samba Developers. I know Dave has already blogged on this but you might want to check out Sam Ramji’s background on this agreement at the Port25 Blog. You might also want to check out the Samba Announcement on this. Whilst I might argue with Dave on some points, I think we both agree that this is the right outcome and the sort of pragmatic approach we want to see from the Opensource World.

The Windows Protocols (or at least those implemented by Samba) are SMB (Server Message Block) and CIFS (Common Internet File System). The SMB protocol was documented by IBM back in the 1980s and CIFS was developed as a publicly available enhancement to SMB by Microsoft and a number of other Vendors. So, to say that these Protocols were never in the public domain is not quite true but over time Microsoft made enhancements for its various OS products without publicly documenting this.

I know Dave mentions that licensing of these Protocols has been available before the EC Judgement but Groklaw has an article stating that SUN Microsystems wrote to Microsoft back in 1998 asking for documentation to allow SUN to write software which was interoperable with Active Directory, but this request was turned down by Microsoft. SUN then lodged a complaint with the EC and thus was started the process which eventually ended in the recent verdict. Now whilst I agree with Dave the end results are not what consumers probably want or have taken up, ultimately Microsoft was found guilty of abusing its position in the market place and this was found by “due process”. This has also previously been the case in the US and the anti-trust case taken by the US Government. So unless we think that the US Government and the EC are just out to get Microsoft we need to learn from these things. I believe Microsoft is learning and attempting to move forward in a more positive and open way – it will take time. It needs people like Dave to explain within Microsoft why there should be closer working with Opensource Projects such as Samba (as the Port25 guys are doing) – not everyone gets it in Microsoft!

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Gartner declares Open Source biggest Disruptor of our time

I know people don’t always believe I have a complete grip on reality but maybe they’ll believe Gartner. According to Gartner Open Source accounted for 13% of the $92.7 billion software market in 2006 and will account for 27% by 2011. They say “Continued acceptance will drive down prices and force proprietary software vendors to change their business model.”

Gartner also declared Open Source software the biggest disruptor the software industry has ever seen. Open Source can mean big bucks! One recent example has been Zimbra who were bought up by Yahoo for $350 million. Zimbra has a dual source licensing strategy where you can have the Open Source version or you can buy their support and enhancements to the product for a fee.

Microsoft Going Opensource

Miguel de Icaza has a really excellent post on the recent announcements by Microsoft on its Opensource strategy. It looks to me that Microsoft is starting to hedge its bets here! Continuing to develop the way they have traditionally done is proving to be a huge investment for Microsoft and it’s by no means clear that it is the most efficient and productive way. To say that Microsoft could become a totally Opensource company seems quite fanciful at this moment in time. If we look at what’s happened within the technology industry, then there isn’t a major company that hasn’t had to change its strategy because of opensource. These companies include IBM, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Novell and I’m sure there are more.

My own personal belief is that future software development strategies will lie somewhere between opensource and proprietary commercial methods. What balance there will be and what it will look like, I don’t know. I’m just not that clever to work that out. What we can say is that Microsoft is starting out on a journey which it doesn’t know where it will take them to. All we need now is Microsoft is stop the IP Patent claims on Linux and trying to sign Patent Protection deals with various Linux vendors!

Microsoft's Opensource Community Lead

It’s on the Port 25 Blog that Garrett Serack is Microsoft’s new Opensource Community Lead with the task of building “Opensource Communities”! That’s just amazing, go read the details it’s good no, it’s very good!

Is this meaning humble pie for me!

Microsoft's Opensource Strategy Website

So, Microsoft’s work with Opensource has a new website now. I think Microsoft has a lot to gain from this work and was really pleased to see the launch of IronRuby, so you can now write WPF apps using Ruby on a Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) which is targeted at the .NET CLR. One of the great things about .NET’s IL is that it is flexible enough to support many different languages.

Scott Guthrie covers this in his blog in quite some detail and Miguel de Icaza congratulates Microsoft on the release.

Upgrading to Trixbox v2.2

I’ve finally upgraded my old Asterisk@Home installation with Trixbox v2.2 (which is what the project is now called). How straight forward was this? Easy peasy! Just downloaded the VMWare image (650 MB zip file) and as I’d been running using VMWare Player, then I just had to open this new image. I set the IP address of the new VM and copied over the config to Trixbox and hey presto, we’re up and running! Okay, so I’m running this on my SBS 2003 box and VMWare Player gives warnings that you shouldn’t run this on a domain controller! I upgraded VMWare Player from 1.03 to 2.0 but that started causing BSODs on the SBS machine when starting the Trixbox image – not good! So, I reverted to keeping VMWare Player 1.0.3 – it works fine. The longest thing was finding how I enable voicemail? It actually has to be installed through one of the admin menus before it’ll appear in your Extension setup. The fact that I get a ton of sophisticated VoIP features and cheap calls is amazing. Seeing as Unified Messaging is all the rage at the moment, then even small businesses can be doing some clever stuff! I love the flexibility virtualisation is affording me as well.

The Trixbox Appliance looks really cool as well!

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