Poll : Why Women Matter in FOSS?

Open World Forum

Open World Forum

The free and open source software world believes in freedom, openness, access and collaboration as some of its core values. Yet, the number of women in FOSS is minimal. Why? And how can this be changed?

April, a leading non-profit organization in France which promotes free and open source software is conducting a poll to better understand the role of women in FOSS. Researchers at one of Paris’ main universities – Paris Descartes University, will be analyzing the poll results. The analysis will be presented on September 30th in the Diversity Summit, at the Open World Forum in Paris.

If you’re involved in the FOSS community and care about this issue, express your opinion by taking a few minutes to complete the poll at:

http://owf-ged-poll.limequery.com/71557

Brazil and India: The Next Generation of Open Source

Brazil and India: Next Generation of Open Source

Brazil and India: Next Generation of Open Source

Those of us who follow the growth of open source in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) know that both Brazil and India are leveraging open source at a rapid pace towards economic development.

India

India is a heavy user of open source. Sectors leveraging open source include software development outsourcing, business process outsourcing, government services, technical education as well as industries such as banking, insurance, manufacturing, oil and gas, defense and space. According to Wikipedia, India produces 2.5 million graduates every year from which only a small percentage, about 700,000 people are employed by India’s BPO industry. The BPO industry which has flourished on cheap, skilled labor has started to leverage open source software based automation to gain further cost advantages.

Brazil

Brazil has also been a hotbed of open source activity in recent years. Government agencies, private industry, universities have been teaching and implementing open source solutions to create local centers of knowledge and gain expertise around open source in the country. Seeing India’s success in IT outsourcing, Brazil has also declared an interest in using open source to gain leadership in the market of software development outsourcing.

According to recent articles in Network World and Computer Weekly, Brazil has a few humps to overcome to fully leverage the power of open source for software outsourcing. These challenges include a predominantly non-English speaking IT industry and higher hourly wages. But the Brazilians are optimistic that deep knowledge of open source can overcome such factors and help them compete globally.

Brazil’s open source experts in IT, government and education are very active in international open source forums as well as engaging international experts in Brazil. For example, the Linux Foundation will be holding its first-ever Brazil summit later this year. Such exchange of ideas, skills and expertise can help stimulate the local knowledge economy and give Brazil an edge especially in open source expertise.

Brazil has other advantages that it could combine with the knowledge of open source to develop its software development outsourcing markets with special focus on the US. These advantages include geographical proximity to the US, in-country advanced technology research and excellent infrastructure such as roads, airports, power and telecommunications.

Collaboration is good

In the true spirit of open source, both India and Brazil can learn a lot from each other. India’s IT and outsourcing industries could certainly learn a thing or two from Brazil’s commitment to open source to foster innovation and develop its internal and export markets. Making deeper commitments to adopting open source can only help both countries grow their economies while sharing their experiences and best practices. Knowledge economies can only thrive on continuing the pursuit of better education, deeper expertise, more innovation and long term collaboration.

Apple and Open Source: Raising the Bar

Apple and Open Source: Raising the Bar

Apple and Open Source: Raising the Bar

Two excellent articles published recently on Apple’s quest to improve user experience in its mobile products such as the iPhone and what Open Source can learn from it.

1. Making Open-Source Software Free and Fabulous, by Jim Zemlin, Linux Foundation, BusinessWeek

This article aptly reiterates the pressing need to focus on further improving the Linux and Open Source application user experience.

“We’re moving to a tech world with Apple on one side and virtually everyone else on the other. Linux needs to more effectively compete with Steve Jobs and the magic of Apple. It’s important that open-source products add more value for users than simply being free. Open-source software also needs to be fabulous….

…Providing a good user experience isn’t paramount under the white lights of the data center. In consumer electronics, it’s a different story. Mobile Linux vendors must increase their technical investments by working on key open-source projects to make every component used in Linux devices benefit the user experience. That includes making devices boot up faster, connect better, and display graphics more smoothly. In the server market, IBM made the investments to improve Linux for information technology workers a decade ago. The mobile industry uniting behind Linux should do the same.”

2. Why Open Source developers should thank Apple (and why Apple should thank open source) by Dj Walker-Morgan, The H Open

This article does a good job of highlighting areas where Apple has helped Open Source by raising the bar for usability.

“Apple has also set a high competitive bar for open source, and proprietary developers to exceed. For too long, the competition for open source was defined by Microsoft’s offerings…

…although Apple has made design, policy and commercial decisions that people in the free and open source software community vigorously object to, they have provided a number of things too: a real competitive bar to replace the complacent Microsoft competition and a disruption to the mobile phone market which has indirectly led to Linux based phones moving from oddities to center stage. It is said that a rising tide raises all ships, and Apple has, in the last ten years created competition that is making all the players in the business rise to the challenge of competing. Open source and free software are rising to that competitive challenge and if that means users of free software and open source software get as good an experience using it as Apple’s well polished offerings, isn’t that something to be thankful for?”

iPhone 4: A game changer. Again.

WWDC 2010

WWDC 2010

Apple’s annual developer conference WWDC started today in San Francisco with the “official” unveiling of the latest iPhone 4 and iOS 4 by Steve Jobs.

In keeping with Apple’s mantra of innovation and usability, iPhone 4, is loaded with smartphone technology firsts. Much awaited features include a front-facing camera together with a rear-facing 5 megapixel camera, 5x digital zoom, HD movie capability, LED flash, 3-axis gyro, compass, high-res retina display, noise cancellation and a larger battery for longer battery life. All these features have added fuel to the ongoing competition between leading smart phone vendors like Apple and Google. But it’s clear that Apple has raised the bar for innovation and usability on the mobile platform yet again.

Apps on the new iPhone which I am excited about include:

1. iBooks: This app which was initially released with the iPad and will now allow reading PDFs and the same copy of any book across multiple Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iTouch).

2. iMovie: For amateur movie makers, we’ll now be able to create, edit and share videos right from the device.

3. FaceTime: Video chat is finally here with FaceTime. Today this app works on wi-fi only. Of course, you need another friend with a iPhone 4 to vchat with. I hope that Mr. Jobs is serious about his proposal to make FaceTime truly an open international standard.

Despite the game changing potential of the new iPhone, the demands of smart apps on this device may be hard to satisfy with the new limited data plans that come with it. Hopefully, as usage of data-intensive apps (e.g VoIP, Maps, Movies, Video) on smart phones goes up, US network carriers will be encouraged to provide more generous plans.

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.

One Small Blip on the Stock Index, One Giant Step for Apple

Apple overtakes Microsoft

Apple overtakes Microsoft (Image credit: www.funny-potato.com)

History was made today as Apple overtook Microsoft ($226.3 billion) in market value and became the world’s most valued technology company at $227.1 billion dollars.

iPhones, iPads and iPods have definitely revitalized Apple’s innovative streak. It will be interesting to see how the company maintains its success in the consumer device space as competition from Google, Microsoft, HP and other vendors heats up. And open source is in the middle of it all, as it becomes a favorite tool-chest to surpass the market leader. Android, Chrome, HTML5, CSS3… the list grows as tools of disruption are readied. It’s going to be exciting times ahead especially at WWDC in San Francisco coming up on June 7-11.

The Open Web?

Suburbanizing the Web?

Suburbanizing the Web?

An excellent article in NYT on “The Death of the Open Web“, drawing parallels to the phenomenon of suburbanization in the US.

“…In the migration of dissenters from the “open” Web to pricey and secluded apps, we’re witnessing urban decentralization, suburbanization and the online equivalent of white flight.

The parallels between what happened to cities like Chicago, Detroit and New York in the 20th century and what’s happening on the Internet since the introduction of the App Store are striking. Like the great modern American cities, the Web was founded on equal parts opportunism and idealism. Over the years, nerds, students, creeps, outlaws, rebels, moms, fans, church mice, good-time Charlies, middle managers, senior citizens, starlets, presidents and corporate predators all made their home on the Web. In spite of a growing consensus about the dangers of Web vertigo and the importance of curation, there were surprisingly few “walled gardens” online — like the one Facebook purports to (but does not really) represent…”

Finding common ground

Ideas worth meditating on …

Many Faiths, One Truth

Today’s Op-Ed in the New York Times by His Holiness the Dalai Lama -

“Finding common ground among faiths can help us bridge needless divides at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever. As a species, we must embrace the oneness of humanity as we face global issues like pandemics, economic crises and ecological disaster. At that scale, our response must be as one.”

Join the POSSE in Silicon Valley!

POSSE California

POSSE California

As the open source ecosystem grows, the need for talented developers, collaborators and open source experts has burgeoned. Increasingly, universities want to incorporate the teaching of open source technologies, techniques and business models into their curricula to meet this growth.

For the past few months I’ve been working with Red Hat’s team at TeachingOpenSource.org on open source education. As part of this effort, we’ve looked at conducting a week long camp for educators – POSSE – to teach open source development processes, tools and techniques. Professors Open Source Summer Experience, better known as POSSE, was first held in the summer of 2009.

As a board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), I’m proud to announce that OSI is supporting and helping organize POSSE in California along with Red Hat. What better place to hold the first camp on the West Coast than Silicon Valley.

We invite university, college and high-school instructors involved in teaching open source technologies, tools and software development to attend this week long camp in Mountain View, California from July 6-10, 2010. Registration is free for all instructors teaching software development in academic institutions. Seating is limited so please register as early as possible.

To register, sign up here. Attendees are responsible for their own costs for travel and accommodations. More information about POSSE California can be found here and here.

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!