OpenSource.com Launches

Red Hat has recently launched OpenSource.com. This isn’t a site where Red Hat will simply extol the virtues of its products, but about Open Source in general… even outside the technology context. We already know that Open Source has the ability to definitively produce better software. Red Hat is now asking a bigger question: where else can the principles we’ve learning in building OSS be applied. From the about page:

opensource.com is where we explore what happens when the Open Source way is applied to the world. What problems can we solve? How would it affect the way we learn? Work? Run our governments?

We want to shine a light on the places where the open source way is multiplying ideas and effort, even beyond technology. We believe that opensource.com will be a gathering place for many of the open source stories we’d like to share–through articles, audio, web presentations, video, or open discussion.

The term open source began as a way to describe software source code and the collaborative model for how it’s developed. Red Hat used this model for developing technology and built a business model around open source and its principles: Openness. Transparency. Collaboration. Diversity. Rapid prototyping.

The open source way is more than a development model; it defines the characteristics of a culture. Red Hat and other open source thought leaders want to show you where open source is headed next. Tell you how to get involved. Help you apply it to your life and the world around you.

The open source way is about possibility.
Open source presents a new way to solve old problems. To share ideas and effort.

The open source way opens doors.
Open source offers a new perspective. Open, not closed. Collaboration, not isolation.

The open source way multiplies.
Knowledge. Effort. Inspiration. Creativity. Innovation. The impact is exponential.

And it’s already happening:

CHANGING OUR SOCIETY…

The open source way thrives on broad collaboration and shared effort. Wikipedia is one of the world’s most extensive collections of information. Its rapid, exponential growth arose from a very different model and philosophy from the traditional encyclopedia. Anyone can contribute, and entries are subject to peer review.

CHANGING HOW WE WORK…

Two key characteristics of the open source way are transparency and accountability. With natural and organic foods market Whole Foods, they pass accountability to the employees that can most directly impact their individual areas throughout each store. Wages, staffing decisions, even choosing what items to stock–these activities are all done in the open.

CHANGING OUR GOVERNMENT…
US President Barack Obama came to office with the promise of change. His campaign encouraged participation, and his administration has pledged to create a new environment of openness and participation in government.

CHANGING HOW WE LEARN…
Education is all about an exchange of knowledge. MIT took the lead in sharing knowledge and chose to try and change the world in the process. They make the materials used in the teaching of almost all of its undergraduate and graduate subjects available on the web, free of charge, to any user in the world. With nearly 1,800 courses available, MIT OpenCourseWare is delivering on the promise of open sharing of knowledge.

It will be interesting to see what kind of participation they get outside the RHT ecosystem and what kind of ideas and actions they’ll be able to evoke. IMHO it was a clever move tying this site to the Open Source name. It both furthers Red Hat’s image as a leader in the Open Source brand and looks to expand awareness of that brand. I’m sure they hope both add to their bottom line.

–jeremy

Happy New Year & Browser and OS stats for 2009

First, I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year. 2009 was another great year for LQ and we have a ton in store for 2010. You may have noticed this blog has been quiescent lately. While I have been twittering regularly, the terse and off the cuff nature of twitter is markedly different than most blog entries here (the conference based live-blogging entries aside). I’d like to resume regular blogging in 2010, even if the frequency isn’t what it once was. 2010 looks to be another interesting year for Linux and Open Source, so finding material to blog about shouldn’t be too onerous.

I’ll finish this post off with the browser and OS statistics for the main LQ site for all of 2009, which I like to post after the conclusion of each year. Here’s the post from 2008, for comparison.

Browsers
Firefox 64.28%
Internet Explorer 18.23%
Mozilla 4.80%
Chrome 4.30%
Opera 3.75%
Safari 2.88%
Konqueror .98%

Note that Firefox is actually down .16% while Chrome passed Opera, Safari and Konqueror in its first year. Firefox versions are once again all over the map, with 3.0.10 being the only version above 10% of FF users at 10.70%. No version of 3.5 comes in the top five, but 3.5.3 is the most used in that branch at 6.48% (with 3.5.5 hot on its heels at 6.37%).

Operating Systems
Windows 52.73%
Linux 40.94%
Macintosh 5.43%

That’s right; both Windows and Linux are slightly down from last year, while Mac is slightly up. The most used mobile OS is the iPhone at .12%, with Android coming in at .02%.

–jeremy

LinuxCon: Let's Get Together: Coordinated Software Releases, The Linux Ecosystem and the Impact on the Global Marketplace (liveblog)

Keynote – Mark Shuttleworth

* Open Source has the power to “end up defining the experience that the average person has when they turn on their computer”
* For every 1 Ubuntu alpha user there are about 10 beta users and then about 100 final release users.
* There’s a disdain about marketing for some in Open Source… but if you’re doing it right, it shouldn’t be seen as “marketing”, but talking about something you’re passionate about.
* We’ve seen many high profile projects move to time based releases – Mark calls this project cadence.
* For an enterprise Linux distro, Ubuntu research seems to indicate that a 2 year release cycle makes the most people happy.
* It turns out that for the most part, distro’s do not compete on which has the latest version of product $X. I can see some major exceptions here though.
* Automated testing should be seen as critical. Mark sees a clear difference in projects that fully support a make check and those that don’t.
* There are at times a huge chasm in Open Source projects between in the inside “cabal” of trusted contributors and people who are new and interesting in contributing code. Mark sees automated test suites as a potential way to mitigate this.
* As Open Source becomes more mainstream, the gap between “users” and “developers” is going to continually widen. Automated crash reporting integrated into source management can help here.
* We have to ensure the software we create can compete with the best of breed solutions, proprietary or otherwise.
* Note: The Linux sound subsystem has really been taken a beating at LinuxCon
* Cadence, Quality and Design are the points Mark wanted to drive home.

This keynote wraps up the event. I’ve really enjoyed LinuxCon and look forward to attending the event again next year (in Boston). Kudos to the Linux Foundation.

–jeremy

LinuxCon: Beyond the Hype: The True Cost of Linux and Open Source (liveblog)

Moderator: Matt Asay
Panel: Noah Broadwater (Sesame Workshop), David Buckholtz (Sony Pictures), Anthony Roby (Accenture)

* Open Source was the number one answer for what kind of software executives are planning to implement in the next year
* roughly 4 of every 5 programmers have used some kind of Open Source. Even for .NET programmers, the number is 3 of every 5.
* Forrester has seen multiple demonstrable million plus dollar savings via Open Source implementations, including a 100M savings by Sabre.
* Accenture: Open Source allows you to tackle problems that were previously economically just not viable.
* Sesame moved to Open Source to reduce licensing costs and allow them to compete with companies like Disney while being a non-profit. They only have two developers since moving to Open Source; they previously had 10.
* Mid-sized shops that don’t look at development as a core competency is currently a place where Open Source is perceived as weak and can improve its uptake and success rates moving forward.

–jeremy

Introducing the Google Chrome OS

After years of speculation, Google has officially announced its intentions for a “Google OS”. From the press release:

It’s been an exciting nine months since we launched the Google Chrome browser. Already, over 30 million people use it regularly. We designed Google Chrome for people who live on the web — searching for information, checking email, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends. However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.

Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we’re already talking to partners about the project, and we’ll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year. The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

It basically sounds as though Chrome OS will be a very light weight Linux that can boot extremely quickly and is designed to run the Chrome browser quickly and efficiently. The details beyond that are unfortunately extremely light at this point. It’s a bit ironic that Chrome OS is based on Linux while Linux support in Chrome has considerably lagged Windows and OS X support thus far. My initial thought was, why Chrome OS in addition to Android. They touch on that in the press release:

Google Chrome OS is a new project, separate from Android. Android was designed from the beginning to work across a variety of devices from phones to set-top boxes to netbooks. Google Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the web, and is being designed to power computers ranging from small netbooks to full-size desktop systems. While there are areas where Google Chrome OS and Android overlap, we believe choice will drive innovation for the benefit of everyone, including Google.

It seems to me there will be quite a bit of overlap, but we’ll have to see what direction Google takes both Chrome OS and Android before we can tell for sure. You have to assume that much of the Chrome OS experience will actually take place in the cloud, which could get interesting but poses a variety of stumbling points, of which privacy and security will be major ones. Another pain point is what the experience will be like when you go offline (which happens quite a bit, despite what some people attempt to tell you). Keep in mind that Chrome OS isn’t scheduled to launch for almost a full year. A lot can happen in that time, but this announcement should be seen as a bright spot for Linux in general. Google could have chosen anything to build this on top off. The fact that they continually build products on top of Open Source software should be seen as a testament to the quality of that software. Whether Google will be able to bring Linux to the masses where others have failed remains to be seen, but between Chrome OS and Android they’re certainly trying. Privacy issues (which far too many people ignore) aside, Chrome OS + Gears + HTML5 + Wave + whatever technology drops in the next 12 months certainly has the potential to be an extremely compelling combo. It’s certainly something I’ll be keeping my eye on.

–jeremy

Additional reading:

WSJ
TechDirt
NYT
TechCrunch
RedMonk

LinuxQuestions.org Turns 9

It was nine years ago today that I made my very first post at LQ. 3,578,611 posts and 407,152 members (note: we prune inactive members – more than 480,000 members have signed up) later, I continue to be astounded by what LQ has become. As I’ve stated many times, the site has grown well beyond my initial expectations. If you’d have told me in 2000 that I’d be traveling around the world, from London to San Francisco, evangelizing Linux and Open Source on behalf of LQ… well, let’s just say I wouldn’t have believed you. I started LQ as a way to give something back to a community that I felt had given to me. I wanted LQ to be a place that was friendly and welcoming to those who were new to Open Source and Linux. Despite our ever growing size, I think we’ve maintained that objective. With an absolutely great group of members and the best mod team on the net, we’ve only just begun however. From the very beginning, LQ has thrived on member feedback. That will never change. Visit this LQ thread to let us know how you think we’re doing. We want to know what we’re doing well and where we can improve. We really do listen closely to feedback and many of the improvements we’ve made over the years were direct responses to member suggestions. I’d like to once again thank each and every LQ member. It really is the members that make the site what it is. Here’s to another nine years!

–jeremy

Random stat: In our ninth year on the net, well over 25,000,000 unique visitors came to LQ.

Red Hat: Bad economy is good for Open Source

From a post by Matt Asay:

Well, on Wednesday Red Hat announced fiscal first-quarter revenue of $174 million, up 11 percent from the prior year. Subscription revenue was up 14 percent year over year to $148.8 million. The company’s total deferred revenue balance is now $567.3 million, an increase of 15 percent on a year-over-year basis. Net income for the quarter was $18.5 million.

Both Oracle and Red Hat are doing well, and Oracle is obviously dealing with much bigger wads of money, but it seems clear that Red Hat’s open-source model is the big winner in the recession.

In fact, on Red Hat’s earnings call, Chief Executive Jim Whitehurst indicated: “Budgets remain tight and we don’t see an end in sight for this. In relative terms, this is pretty good for us.” He went on to call out the big differentiator for Red Hat’s business: certified ecosystem.

The key differentiator for us in Linux is our certified ecosystem. Even those that are clones of RHEL [Red Hat Enterprise Linux] lack this certified ecosystem. The second differentiator is value: great service and support at a compelling price.

We have a very disciplined business model which is based on commoditizing key parts of core infrastructure. We’ve been laser-focused on this. Open source is particularly good at that. We’d certainly like to work with other open-source companies but they have fundamentally different business models than we have.

Repeatedly asked on the earnings call about competition from Oracle, Red Hat executives took turns dismissing Oracle’s Solaris (“When customers decide to jump from Solaris they go straight to Linux, skipping OpenSolaris”) and Oracle’s Linux strategy (“We’ve yet to lose a major customer over the last year to Oracle’s Linux offering. The only one to leave Red Hat in the past couple of years is Oracle itself.”).

You can view the full RHT quarterly report here. Red Hat continues to do well and I think it’s become clear that the continuing recession can benefit certain Open Source business models. Matt makes a very good point in his post though. At some point, the UNIX-replacement business is going to slow. Currently that business is a huge chunk of Red Hat sales. When that slowing finally happens, Red Hat is going to have to look to others places for growth and competing more directly with Microsoft seems like one clear place to look for that growth. Today, less of Red Hat’s sales come at Microsoft’s expense than many people realize. It may very well take an acquisition or two for that to change. With JBoss now fully consumed, some additional acquisitions seem inevitable, but they may not come for a little while for a couple reasons. First, most companies are trying to conserve cash right now, and Red Hat is no exception there. Secondly though, Red Hat really has to be careful whose toes it steps on with its acquisitions. They learned that lesson the hard way with JBoss. That being said, at some point they may end up being too conservative in this regard. Competing with much larger companies means you have to use your small size to your advantage and take risks. I think Red Hat is up to the task, it may just take a little time to find the value and situation they’re looking for.

Disclosure: Earlier this year I held a moderate position in NYSE:RHT. I no longer hold that position.

–jeremy

Win a Gratis OSCON Pass from LQ

I’m happy to announce that we’re able to give one full “Sessions Only” pass to OSCON away absolutely free. For those of you who’ve never attended OSCON, it’s always a great event. While the event is in San Jose and not Portland this year, I still expect a top notch showing from O’Reilly. At almost $1,500 the “Sessions Only” pass will get you into everything except for the tutorials. Visit this LQ thread for more information on how to be eligible for the free pass. I’d like to thank O’Reilly for making this possible. See you in San Jose.

–jeremy

Intel to Acquire Wind River Systems

From the official press release (via AndriodGuys):

Intel Corporation has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Wind River Systems Inc, under which Intel will acquire all outstanding Wind River common stock for $11.50 per share in cash, or approximately $884 million in the aggregate. Wind River is a leading software vendor in embedded devices, and will become part of Intel’s strategy to grow its processor and software presence outside the traditional PC and server market segments into embedded systems and mobile handheld devices. Wind River will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel and continue with its current business model of supplying leading-edge products and services to its customers worldwide.

“This acquisition will bring us complementary, market-leading software assets and an incredibly talented group of people to help us continue to grow our embedded systems and mobile device capabilities,” said Renee James, Intel vice president and general manager of the company’s Software and Services Group. “Wind River has thousands of customers in a wide range of markets, and now both companies will be better positioned to meet growth opportunities in these areas.”

Wind River and its Wind River Linux are quite popular in the embedded space, so this could be a big win for both Linux and Open Source. With embedded devices gaining in popularity, this could be the beginning of the end for the “Wintel” duopoly.

Further reading:
SAI
ZDnet
Engadget

–jeremy

Wikipedia changes its license

(via David A. Wheeler) The proposed change that the copyright licensing terms on the wikis operated by the WMF – including Wikipedia, be changed to include the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) license in addition to the current GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) has been approved. From the official results:

If “no opinion” votes are not included, the Yes/No percentage becomes 87.9%/12.1% (15071 votes).

This impacts us at LQ due to its implications to the LQ Wiki. We recognized the desire to license content CC-BY-SA some time ago and added that as an additional option as a result. With this Wikipedia change it’s likely we’ll do the research needed to offer the same dual licensing option that the WMF now offers. Stay tuned.

–jeremy

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