Category Archives: FOSS

MIT’s Top 10 Emerging Technologies for 2010

Emerging Technologies 2010

Emerging Technologies 2010

Every year MIT’s Technology Review selects and publishes a list of the 10 most promising emerging technologies. This year’s list picks some really futuristic technology ideas in internet and web applications, mobile computing, green technologies, biomedicine, and solar energy which are worth learning more about.

The list includes:

It lists technology areas such as cloud programming, real-time search, social TV and mobile 3-D where I think open source software has a big role to play. Especially in the arena of cloud programming, it is interesting to note that UC Berkeley researcher Joseph Hellerstein has been working on a project named BOOM (Berkeley Orders of Magnitude). This project has developed a software language named BLOOM which he proposes can make cloud programming easier for building complex cloud applications by tracking data and state. As MIT Technology Review points out,

“Hellerstein’s big idea is to modify database programming languages so that they can be used to quickly build any sort of application in the cloud–social networks, communication tools, games, and more. Such languages have been refined over the years to hide the complexities of shuffling information in and out of large databases. If one could be made cloud-friendly, programmers could just think about the results they want, rather than micromanaging data.”

The UC Berkeley team has also used BLOOM to build around open source cloud computing platform Hadoop.

MySQL Week Kicks Off in Silicon Valley

A Conversation with Colin Charles, Chief Evangelist at Monty Program Ab

O'Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo 2010

A lot has happened in the MySQL world since last year’s conference in Silicon Valley. Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL through its purchase of Sun has led to increased diversity and opportunities for the entire MySQL ecosystem. The conference this week in Santa Clara brings it all together and showcases the latest happenings. I chatted with Colin Charles, program chair for the conference, about his expectations for the event.

What do you hope the MySQL Conference will accomplish this year?

I hope that we’ll see us going beyond MySQL being a company, or a trademark. I believe that if people understand that this is one large ecosystem, where we have some outright forks (like Drizzle), and some branches (like MariaDB, etc.), we’re all helping make the MySQL ecosystem a more vibrant and better one. Like features being funded, etc. It’s completely amazing!

What great new things is MySQL planning for this year?

I can’t quite say this considering I have no idea what Oracle’s plans are. But I can expect things like MySQL 5.5, a lot of talk with the storage engine vendors, new happenings with InnoDB. This year, I expect a lot of things within Oracle to be “settling down”, so to speak.

From a MariaDB perspective, we’re taking in more community patches (an example is virtual columns that have been sitting around on the MySQL patch queue for quite some time – so we’re picking up the slack). We’ll also focus on engines. We want new optimizer features, which we’ve been spending a lot of time on.

Drizzle? I think a release is imminent. There are more and more users in various pockets now as well. And the team is quite distributed, with Rackspace being one of the major hirers of Drizzle hackers.

What is the role of MySQL in relationship to other Oracle products such as Oracle Database 11G and BerkeleyDB.

There is really no relationship. These are all independent products. How will this be sorted in Oracle land when it comes to selling Cluster NDB against Oracle RAC/Times Ten? Or MySQL against Oracle? I think Oracle will allow internal competition. Competing against yourself is a lot better than competing against others.

BDB was a MySQL engine. It now has an SQLite front-end.

How has the MySQL landscape changed with offerings like MariaDB, Drizzle, XtraDB and others?

Drastically. Now people have a choice. Drizzle is a complete fork of the 6.0 tree. MariaDB is based on the current release HEAD of MySQL, which is 5.1. XtraDB is an engine that’s included in MariaDB. In fact, MariaDB includes engines like PBXT, XtraDB, FederatedX (modified Federated engine that MySQL no longer maintains), and will soon include the Spider and Sphinx engines.

What do you think of NoSQL? Is it complementary to MySQL?

NoSQL is for very smart people with very specific uses. I think you’d have to understand how an RDBMS like MySQL works, and figure out that, for your specific use, it doesn’t do the trick. Then you might use one of the new utilities, all lumped as “NoSQL” databases.

It will be a growing player, and we’ve focused on this at the conference this year. Maybe next year, we’ll have a whole track or two, as steam is picking up amongst all these solutions, and a lot of shops run MySQL and some NoSQL solutions at some stage… especially the big shops!

Drupal Sprint India 2009 Follow-up

Here are some good blog posts reviewing Drupal Sprint India held in Pune on Oct 30-31. Looks like it was useful and fun for those who participated.

Drupal Sprint in Pune this weekend

Drupal in India by Prasad Shirgaonkar

Drupal in India by Prasad Shirgaonkar

Drupal seems to be picking up momentum among Indian developers and students this year. Reflecting this new-found interest is the upcoming Drupal Sprint on October 30th and 31st in Pune. The sprint is taking place at the Bhaskaracharya Pratishthana (BP) campus on Law College Road and is being organized by Pune Linux Users Group (PLUG) enthusiasts and BP.

At this cosy and focused FOSS gathering, you can participate in a sprint to fix bugs, write documentation, develop Drupal modules as well as learn about migrating from Drupal 6 to the latest Drupal 7. And if you’re not into developing code or documentation, you can learn about how Drupal is being used in websites, blogs and online magazines by attending talks and workshops which occur in parallel.

After organizing PLUGMASH a couple of years ago, I’m glad to see the PLUG organizing this event. It would be impossible to pull off this sprint without Vivek Khurana, Manjusha Joshi, Sudhanwa Jogalekar and all the folks volunteering their time to share their passion for Drupal.

Registration is free for this sprint. So all you need is time and of course an interest in building beautiful websites. If you’re in the Mumbai-Pune area, do stop by and participate. I’d love to hear from you about the event, so send me your feedback :-)

Red Hat organizes Professors’ Open Source Camp in Singapore

POSSE

POSSE

Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience (POSSE), a training bootcamp targeted for faculty members of technical universities in Asia is being organized from November 9-13, 2009 at Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore. Faculty members from Singapore, Malaysia, China, India are expected to participate.

The first camp was held in Raleigh, North Carolina earlier this year in July.

The goals for the camp are ambitious. A cross-section of topics focusing on development tools and techniques aims to recruit new contributors to open source projects by providing a hands-on experience to participants using Fedora as project examples.

The 5-day camp starts with an overview of open source, then dives into communication tools such as IRC, wikis and blogs to teach participants how to be effective contributors. Development topics include compiling source code, using build tools, setting up a build environment and packaging with RPM.

Testing and bug fixing are easy routes for users to become contributors. Participants walk-through the process of filing bug reports with Bugzilla as well as editing, testing and creating bug patches.

The camp is being organized by Harish Pillay, Jasmine Ee, and Alan Ho from Red Hat Singapore. Mel Chua and Greg DeKoenigsberg are mentors for the program. You can find out more about POSSE Singapore at its website.

I think this program is an excellent start in the right direction by Red Hat and its Asia Pacific (APAC) team to facilitate open source education. Engaging faculty from engineering universities is key to increasing contributions as well as growing the talent pool of engineers in emerging markets to support industry demand.

India’s FOSS community celebrates Software Freedom Day 2009

SFD 2009

SFD 2009

Today is Software Freedom Day. India’s FOSS community has organized install fests, software demos and talks to promote free and open source software across the nation. University FOSS clubs, Linux User Groups (LUGs) and Open Source User Groups (OSUMs) have been organizing grass-root gatherings all week.

Coverage from some of these events includes:

It’s pretty exciting to see so much activity. Hope to see even more schools and colleges participate next year. Happy SFD 2009!

At OSCON 2009


OSCON 2009
The O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) moved down from Portland to San Jose this year. Here are some highlights of my experiences at the conference this time.

What did I like?

Community

Why does every open source developer, entrepreneur and evangelist want to be at OSCON every year? More precisely, why do I like to be at OSCON every year :-) It’s because of the community – the community around open source. OSCON continues to be the only open source technology conference in the US where everyone can meet their friends, colleagues and fellow community members to talk technology and discuss where open source is heading. OSCON still manages to attract the combined free and open source community. There are developers, community activists, and leading technologists from local and global open source projects and organizations, all interested in leveraging open source software and in practicing collaborative innovation.

What did I find really interesting?

Open Source in Education

Anyone involved in open source advocacy today will include “open source in education” as one of their top priorities. The global message is clear – there is a shortage of talent to support open source software. It is the education systems across the world which need to produce these needed resources. A couple of talks at OSCON – ‘Educating Students in 21st Century Skills via FOSS’ and ‘New Ways for Teaching Children Software Programming’ featured experts who relayed their experiences and reviewed best practices in teaching open source technologies in high schools and universities in the US.

Open Government: Transparency = Open Source + Open Standards + Open Data

Tim O’Reilly, publisher and owner of O’Reilly Media, started the discussions on Open Government at OSCON with his keynote which highlighted efforts of the new Obama administration to promote open data and open source software for equal access to information. O’Reilly also talked about the new advocacy group – “Open Source for America” which will focus on lobbying the US government to use open source software. There were also some excellent panel discussions on open government which discussed issues of open data, transparency and the practicalities of working with government. Personally, having worked for many years on technology projects with government agencies and witnessed first-hand the fast pace at which agencies have absorbed open source technologies – it was very interesting to witness the current spike in enthusiasm among the Silicon Valley technorati to engage in public-private partnerships to work with the federal government. In the panel, ‘Open Source / Open Government’ – moderated by my colleague at the Open Source Initiative (OSI), Danese Cooper – Brian Behlendorf spoke of the sometimes frustrating effort required to work with various agencies. The panel provided valuable insight into the tough process of trying to implement open government in real organizations. The second panel on ”Bureaucrats, Technocrats and Policy Cats: How the Government is turning to Open Source, and Why’ presented Oregon state initiatives such as DemocracyLab, Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON) and Open Source Digital Voting Foundation (OSDV). This panel offered a snapshot of changes that open source software has enabled in public policy, government, and education.

Digital Media, Publishing, Open Source

The age of digital media has arrived. News on paper has to co-exist with the Internet. And OSCON sessions on how paper and digital are working together using open source were well presented by New York Times (NYT) as well as by National Public Radio (NPR). David Gottfrid of the New York Times did a great session on the NYT’s goals to share their content online and their APIs for opening up their digital content – news stories, audio podcasts, blogs and opinions. Excellent material to build some great data mashups. Another interesting talk on mainstream media going online, was by Adam Martin of National Public Radio (NPR) who walked through NPR Digital’s open APIs for sharing their audio podcasts and online content. Grey areas still exist such as licensing of content for non commercial vs. commercial usage as well as their choice to not use CC licenses for content distribution. There were many questions about what non-commercial usage is. What if someone’s personal blog uses Google Ads on their site? What if someone mashes up NPR audio with their own commentary and spreads disinformation? Boundaries of usage are still unclear and being worked out by these organizations.

Social Good: Making a Change with Open Source

My friend Zaheda Bhorat organized a diverse group of projects showcasing how open standards and open source software are helping to generate social benefits today. The presenters for three different projects – Paul Rademaker from allforgood.org, Adam Lerer from Open Data Kit (an Android based system helping community healthcare workers in Kenya and Uganda) and Greg Norris of Earthster.org – talked about how their projects are using open source software, open data and open standards to make an impact in the areas of volunteering, poverty eradication, healthcare and climate change.

Technology Trends

Other sessions that I enjoyed attending included “State of Lightning Talks” hosted by Josh Berkus to get a 5 minute snapshot of active open source projects – from PGSQL, Drupal, OpenOffice to newcomers such as MariaDB, R language, and MongoDB. Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation delivered the closing keynote for the conference on Friday afternoon. It was an interesting talk about Zemlin’s projections on how Linux was fast becoming the default choice for peripheral hardware producers. Linux has helped Asian hardware vendors maintain their margins in a high volume business. These vendors use Linux for its technology as well as to avoid Microsoft license fees. He also predicted that Apple’s AppStore model was going to become pervasive with every hardware vendor having their own store to reduce fees that have to be paid to third parties. Jim offered another projection about the netbook revolution coming to the US in the next 6 months, with ATT launching a $50 netbook based VOIP service.

Three things that I felt were well done at OSCON

  • Excellent content on emerging topics: I liked the breadth and depth of new and emerging topics such as open government, climate change, social good.
  • Good expo interaction with excellent talks from companies (e.g. Intel talk on Moblin) and some excellent organizations in both the dot org and for-profit sections.
  • Snacks, healthy as well as not-so-healthy, in the expo hall sponsored for every break ;-)

Three things that I’d like to see at OSCON

  • New speakers; New topics: Fresh faces and new topics can always help invigorate a conference.
  • More participation: Attendance was estimated at about 2000 people by the organizers this year. In the vastness of the San Jose convention center, the crowds seemed smaller. Maybe lower registration fees would help in these times of recession. Lower fees could also help OSCON compete with low cost or free unconferences that are gaining in popularity.
  • More water please: All attendees would benefit from more water dispensers in the hallways and expo hall.

Scilab workshop for teachers at Bhaskaracharya Institute of Mathematics

Scilab workshop at BP

Scilab workshop at BP

The Bhaskaracharya Institute of Mathematics in Pune is organizing full-day workshops on Scilab specifically targeted for teachers.

This program is organized jointly by BP and IIT Bombay. Prof. Katre and Manjusha Joshi of BP have been prime movers in organizing these workshops and activists in spreading the use of open source software for mathematics analysis and research at BP.

These workshops are to be held from 4-7 July from 10am to 5pm. The targeted audience is teachers from colleges under Pune University and Mumbai University and aim to cover various aspects of Scilab, which is part of the undergraduate (BCS) syllabus.

BP has been instrumental in organizing other open source software workshops and conferences such as PLUGMash 2007 with the Pune Linux Users Group (PLUG) .

Are you ready to Ubunchu!

Ubunchu - A Ubuntu Manga Comic Book (Credit: Ubunchu)

Ubunchu - A Ubuntu Manga Comic Book (Credit: Ubunchu)

Earlier this month, Ubunchu, a comic book for Ubuntu, was published in Japanese. Ubunchu is about three students in a sysadmin club who are learning about Ubuntu. Japanese Manga artist (Mangaka) Hiroshi Seo is the creator of this comic series and his first edition has already been translated into English, French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese. Translated versions can be found here.

The comic book format has become an interesting, if novel, way to popularize technology. For example, when Google released Chrome, it introduced its new browser accompanied by a wildly popular comic book. I believe this format could also help kids in middle school and high school learn about the latest technologies like Linux and open source.

Calling on our Indian language localizers… Are you ready to translate Ubunchu? Ubunchu comes with a Creative Commons license and has the SVG source available too. So it should be easy to translate and spread the word.

And here is what Hiroshi says to translators…

For translators:

  • If your are planning to translate the manga into another language,  my consent is not required,  for it is released under Creative Commons BY-NC license. Though I’d really appreciate if you let me know it when it’s done. Then I would add the link of the distribution site to the list above.
  • Both English version’s are distributed with it’s SVG sources. You will find it very easy to edit with SVG editing software like Inkscape. Thanks to DoctorMO & C-quel’s work!  When using these sources, please don’t forget to add the credit for them.

GSoC 2009 – India Participates in Global Open Source

Google Summer of Code 2009

Google Summer of Code 2009

In five years, Google’s Summer of Code program has grown open source awareness as well as built contributors on a global scale. The GSoC 2009 program has announced its list of students for this year’s projects. 1000 students from 70 countries have been selected to work with mentors on over 150 open source projects. The top 5 countries include the US with 212 students, India with 101 students, Germany with 55 students, Canada with 44 students and Brazil with 43 students. India sent in 610 applications from which 101 were selected.

One of my favorite projects Fedora has accepted two Indian students – Satya Komaragiri to work on a WYSIWYG DocBook editor for Fedora documentation and Atul Agarwal to work on an Instant Mirror for Fedora. The GNOME project has accepted one Indian student – Ishan Chattopadhyaya working on Anjuta-Python integration. Other projects with Indian students include Drupal, Eclipse, XWiki, Sahana and SugarLabs. Find out more details on the gsoc-india group.

A focused, incentive based program like GSoC attracts smart students from developing countries. It is a great way to engage budding contributors in open source software projects. But let’s not forget that programs like GSoC must be combined with sustained local efforts in order to create lasting contributors. We need to encourage and organize local activities including open source labs, curricula changes, mentoring programs, development of training material and teacher training. Then India’s participation in open source can only grow.