Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit

I’m in San Francisco for the 3rd annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit. I wasn’t able to attend the event last year, but I was at the introductory Summit and really enjoyed it. I know this blog has been quiet in the recent past, but posting frequency should return to normal moving forward.


Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit

As I mentioned in the podcast, I had planned to attend the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit but had to cancel due to a last minute conflict. Since I wasn’t able to attend I’ve been keep a close eye on the coverage. It looks like I’m missing a great event. Here’s a couple links if you’re also interested in the event:

LF YouTube Channel
Amanda McPherson on the VA announcement
SJVN live
Dave Jones

If you have a good link that I missed, feel free to post it in the comments.


Sun and Open Source

Sun takes a lot of heat in the community. Some would say too much, others would say not enough. I find the situation fascinating, really… and think it’s a good look into the complex and sometimes antithetical nature of the Open Source ecosystem. I don’t think it’s disputable the Sun has done a ton for Open Source. They have deep roots in OSS and to this day contribute a ton of code and mindshare. They have strayed off the path a bit at times and I think part of the uneasiness has to do with their waffling opinion on Linux. To me, it seems like much of this is in the past, but reputations die hard. One thing that is not in the past, and is the current cause of some consternation, is that Sun likes to control projects more then some in the Open Source world are willing to tolerate. The did it with Java, OOo and now OpenSolaris. Roy Fielding recently stepped down from the OpenSolaris project due to this and I think he brings up some valid concerns. I also think much of the problem Sun has in this regard isn’t how they act, but is around their messaging. As Roy mentioned in his email, companies like MySQL were able to adopt products that are truly Open Source with a decision making structure that was mostly controlled within the company. Not many people gave MySQL heat about that, because they were quite up front and transparent about it. Sun is not always so. My next point, as you may have guessed, is that with the recent MySQL AB acquisition, Sun has the opportunely to study and learn from the culture that MySQL was able to create. While I still have some concerns, the more I think about the deal the more I think it made a ton of sense for Sun.

While on the topic of Sun and Open Source, it would be hard to not mention the dust kicked up recently by this post. I do have some commentary, but will save it for a future post. I will say now that I do have some concerns that Sun will be tempted to push MySQL on Solaris, but I don’t think Linux support of MySQL will suffer any time soon. If you’d like some background on the Linux and OpenSolaris issue, this is a great post for you.


Announcing the 2007 Linux Desktop/Client Survey

From The Linux Foundation:

The Linux Foundation Linux Desktop Workgroup is conducting a survey.

The information from this survey will assist the Linux Foundation Desktop Linux workgroup to focus on areas of development that are important to you. The results of this survey may also be valuable to your business. Once you complete the survey, you will be able to view the current aggregated public results of the survey.

The 2007 Linux Desktop/Client Survey asks you to answer a few questions based on your company’s desktop/client plans and not necessarily your personal desktop usage.

If you provide contact information at the end of the survey, the survey results and analysis will be sent to you when the survey is complete. Note: contact information is not a required entry and your contact information will not be published or shared.


OSCON Executive Briefing II

(live blogging, so forgive the grammar and lack of proof reading)

Always Better

Matt Asay (Alfresco) and Mike Olson (Oracle via SleepyCat) discuss the value of source code. Mike argues that zero cost frictionless distribution is more disruptive than source access. A response from the crowd asked why he doesn’t close BerkleyDB. He didn’t get a chance to answer the question, but did give Matt a book.

The Path to IPO

Marten Mickos discusses how he hopes to grow MySQL AB to a billion in revenues. He covered how much the company has matured in the last few years (including items like: “we now invoice customers and have prices”). MySQL really aligns with PHP, but is “promiscuous when it comes to programming languages”. “Moore’s law will continues, but doesn’t apply to people” – MM. “The company you keep matters in Open Source” – TO. MySQL data seems to once again confirm that many people test OSS on Windows and deploy on Linux. Open Source will accelerate what is already happening to a product – bad ones will die quicker and good ones will get better faster.

Managing Linus Torvalds and other small challenges

Jim is covering the reasons that FSG and OSDL merged. He is also reflecting on what he sees as the future responsibility of the Linux Foundation, including what directions they should take and what pitfalls they should avoid.

Why Free Software values work for business

Mark discusses the relationship between the commercial Canonical and the non-commercial Ubuntu community. Mark sees collaboration as one of the key Open Source strengths. Launchpad is meant to take advantage of this and leverage collaboration as much as possible. Freedom of data is becoming increasingly important and Ubuntu/Canonical is committed to free data not only in launchpad (which will be Open Sourced soon), but throughout the project/company. “Driver support in Linux is probably one of the biggest reservations in Linux adoption” – MS. The following question was asked: “Can Ubuntu become bigger than Mark”. In essence, if Mark went away for whatever reason, would Ubuntu survive? This is clearly a question Mark has really thought about, up to and including Will provisions meant to ensure financial viability for the project.


Google Desktop is now available for Linux

At the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, it was alluded to by a few Googlers that more Google Linux apps were coming “real soon now”. Making good on that quickly, Google just released the Google Desktop for Linux. While it is a native app, it’s not Open Source. It would be interesting to see a side-by-side comparison of this and Beagle (which I admit to not using). It’s good to see that, unlike in many cases, the Linux version looks to be an exact feature match with the Windows and OS X versions. At this point I think SketchUp and Notifier are the only two Google apps left without some kind of Linux version available.


Future of Enterprise Linux kernels

Greg K-H discusses the current state of Enterprise Linux kernels. This is a topic that was discussed at length at the LF Collaboration Summit and is one of those issues that has a whole host of pros and cons on all sides. It’s easy to point out the flaws with the current setup, but very difficult to come up with a system that doesn’t have different, but just as serious, flaws. Greg gives a a great synopsis of the current situation and it’s telling that even the Novell/SuSE kernel team doesn’t agree fully on the issue. This is something I think is critical to the future success of Linux. I don’t have any direct suggestions at the moment, but it’s a topic I think needs as much exposure as possible.


Linux leaders plot counterattack on Microsoft

This is from an article recently posted to Reuters about the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit:

Dressed in the alternative software movement’s casual uniform of T-shirts and jeans, the group is coming to grips with internal divisions that sap at its success — Linux is now used to power desktop computers, major Web sites, mobile phones — since rival factions often create very similar products.

But as many of the world’s top tech companies and corporate customers demand ever more from Linux, open source devotees still fight among themselves with the fervor of a tiny monastic order seeking to root out theological error in their midst.

“Guys: Be seekers of truth, not finders of contradiction,” Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, organizer of the event, only half-jokingly told the 150 attendees of what is billed their “Collaboration Summit.”

Collectively, the group is militantly opposed to Microsoft, which some attending the summit openly refer to as “the enemy.”

The thing I really don’t like about the article is the headline. It’s an attention grabber, meant to pull in readers. But, the fact is that nothing could be further from the truth. Having attended the event I can say the the subject of Microsoft was barely even broached. In fact, one of the panels included some of the best Open Source lawyers on the planet. The likes of Andrew Updegrove, Karen Copenhaver and Mark Radcliffe. The audience could ask this ridiculously prodigious group any questions they wanted. The recent Microsoft patent deals were not brought up a single time to my recollection. This summit was about how to better work together within our community, how to collaborate with each others in ways that make sense, how to improve freedom and how to build the absolute best products and services in the world. That’s a change from some events in the past, where it was about Microsoft. It’s good to see we’ve moved on to more important things. Yes, some people do disagree on some things. We’re able to rationally discuss those points as a community though, and through it all that makes us stronger. If 100% of the people in your organization agree on everything, you’re either not doing anything interesting or people are just scared to speak up. Both are bad.


Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit Update

It’s lunchtime at the summit and I have enough time for a quick update. First, a big thanks should go to Google. They are treating us extremely well and it’s fantastic that they do things like this. The last time I was at the GOOG campus was just pre-IPO, and a lot has changed to say the least. The SGI sign is even gone now :)

The conversation so far has been both interesting and very real. To me, those are key components of collaboration, which is what this summit is supposed to be about. Mark had it right when he said that the people in this room agree on far more than they disagree on. In the middle of a flame war, that’s sometime easy to forget.

A couple highlights from the discussion (kudos to the Linux Foundation for explicitly stating that the first day here is 100% bloggable):

* The crowd here is extremely varied with almost all major groups including vendors, coders, hackers, community, users, ISV’s and more represented.
* A data point I wasn’t aware of: somewhere around 1/4-1/3 of the actual Linux kernel code is in fact licensed as “GPLv2 or later”. This has some interesting implications.
* Some day, a dual GPLv2/GPLv3 Linux kernel may be theoretically possible. A GPLv3-only version will not happen.
* Both the GPLv3 discussion and the ATI/nVidia discussion is wearing a bit thin on many people…
* One reason companies like Motorola are so interested in mobile Linux (which is going to be absolutely huge from the looks of things) is that they have some measure of control over the platform. When you get a tome from the carriers stating what you must conform to if you want to run hardware on their network, having access to the code on your phone isn’t a luxury… it’s a business differentiator.
* For mobile Linux to really gain traction, it needs to be a consistent platform. If it’s not, content partners won’t be able to make the business case to support it. (ie. They want to support “mobile Linux” for their apps and content, not have to support each and every phone/carrier combo which run slightly different Linux variants individually)
* It would be a boon if bug reporting was easier, especially with regard to better communication and process flow between distros and upstream (confederation was mentioned).

A lot more was discussed, but alas…lunch it over. Should have another update at some point.