Tag Archives: OpenSource

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?”

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.

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!

Let’s Unlock Our Data

Document Freedom Day March 31, 2010

Document Freedom Day March 31, 2010

Today is Document Freedom Day. It is a day marked around the world for document liberation. It also highlights the importance of using open standards and open data formats for document interchange between everyone who has information to share – between people, schools, businesses and governments.

Progress is being made.

The Open Government Initiative launched last year by the Obama administration is a giant step in implementing open government. Its directives define goals for improving the quality of government information available to the public and for creating a policy framework to build and maintain a culture of open government. At the level of open document and information exchange, real progress is being achieved by completing milestones that track the success of this initiative.

But there are still hurdles to overcome.

In his keynote at OSBC earlier this month, Tim O’Reilly talked about how data lock-in has become a serious challenge to open data. I believe we, and our governments, must even more persistently apply the principles of open source — transparency, collaboration and participation — to free our information and documents from the threat of data lock-in.

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 :-)

Open Source Bloggers in Datamation 2009 Top 200 Tech Blogs

Datamation’s 2009 Top 200 Tech Blogs list the following folks in the Linux / Free and Open Source category:

Starting at rank 155…
155 – Matt Asay: The Open Road
156 – SourceForge Community Blog
157 – Linux Today Blog
158 – Mark Shuttleworth’s Blog
159 – Aaron Seigo
160 – Stormy’s Corner: Stormy Peters
161 – Miquel de Icaza’s Web Log
162 – Jim Zemlin
163 – Free Software Foundation
164 – Linux.com’s Featured Blogs
165 – The Linux Blog
166 – Groklaw
167 – Sexy Sexy Penguins
168 – Ken Hess’s Linux Blog

Even Linus didn’t make it to this list. I think this list needs some new faces. There are many other personalities in the tech world who could be considered for their knowledge and expert opinions on trends and technologies from growing markets in Asia, South America and Africa. But that would be another list :-)

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.