The Dell Idea Storm

Dell recently released Idea Storm, “Where Your Ideas Reign”. Basically, it's a Digg like site where you can submit ideas and feedback and other Dell community members can vote on them. I'm not sure Dell know what was in store for them. The top ideas, in order, as of now:
Pre-Installed Linux | Ubuntu | Fedora | OpenSUSE | Multi-Boot
Pre-Installed OpenOffice | alternative to MS Works & MS Office
linux laptop
No OS Preloaded
Have Firefox pre-installed as default browser
Build computers not loaded with extra software

So five of the top seven suggestions have to do with Open Source and the other two (which are really the same suggestion worded differently) has to do with the amount of pre-load junk that people don't want. The thing is, Dell has always said that there was no real demand for Linux (or even no OS) options. While the demographic of a person who would use Idea Strom certainly skews things a bit toward the more technical, the “no demand” issue is clearly no longer much of an issue. Additionally, I've seen it claimed that Windows ended up being cheaper than Linux for OEM's like Dell as a result of all the money they get from companies wanting to pre-load their software on Windows. This is stuff like AOL, Earthlink, free trials, etc. However, it's clear that consumers don't want this stuff. The question now becomes, will Dell listen… and if they do what repercussions will that have on the current OEM stranglehold than Microsoft has. If Dell starts to offer Linux as checkbox option on all of its models, it's only a matter of time until other vendors follow suit. The good news here as that some of the very latest crop of Linux releases are actually ready for prime time desktop use. Things like Compiz/Beryl, XGL and that bit of polish that have been missing are here. We still need to get through the codec issues, but some distributions even have that sorted. This should get interesting.

Quick OpenID Update

A quick follow-up to this post. OpenID has really been on fire the last month or so. Support from the likes of AOL and Microsoft have been announced, a future version of Firefox will likely support it and Yahoo! has a sort of unofficial support for it. As my previous post announced, the LQ Wiki will be the first LQ site to support logging in via OpenID. This should be implemented by next month. After chatting with Evan on the topic at LinuxWorld, I am also considering the possibility of LQ becoming an OpenID server. This would allow you to use your LQ credentials to login to any site that consumes OpenID. One question I have is – is this something people would be interested in? There are plenty of free OpenID services available, so I want to think carefully before proceeding unnecessarily. If you're unfamiliar with OpenID and are interested, you can visit the official site and this simplified explanation. The one main issue I see with OpenID is the potential for phishing exploits, which is well explained here. Hopefully the next revision of the spec will address this issue.

2006 Members Choice Award Winners Announced

The polls are closed, the data has been audited and the results are in. Here are the official results for the 2006 Members Choice Awards:
Distribution of the Year – Ubuntu (26.44%)
Live Distribution of the Year – Knoppix (26.22%)
Browser of the Year – Firefox (74.61%)
Database of the Year – MySQL (61.68%)
Office Suite of the Year – (89.79%)
Desktop Environment of the Year – KDE (56.58%)
Video Media Player Application of the Year – mplayer (41.93%)
Video Authoring Application of the Year – Kino (27.81%)
Audio Media Player Application of the Year – amaroK (57.07%)
Audio Authoring Application of the Year – Audacity (67.07%)
Multimedia Utility of the Year – K3b (69.51%)
Messaging Application of the Year – Gaim (51.52%)
Window Manager of the Year – Fluxbox (21.44%)
IDE of the Year – Eclipse (34.47%)
Mail Client of the Year – Thunderbird (52.74%)
Text Editor of the Year – vi/vim (38.42%)
Graphics Application of the Year – GIMP (65.60%)
Security Application of the Year – nmap (20.94%)
Windows on Linux App of the Year – Wine (50.10%)
Web Development Editor of the Year – Quanta (36.34%)
Shell of the Year – bash (89.45%)

A big congratulations to all the projects that were nominated this year. We once again had a record turnout, so a thank you is in order for the LQ members who make initiatives like this such a success. For winners, a certificate and site badge will be available soon. As always, the full results will be available at until the nominees for next year are announced. As with most polls, a number of winners were fairly easy to guess ahead of time. Many polls were closer than in past years, which I think is indicative of the increasing number of quality projects OSS is putting out. The number of quality projects out there is truly impressive. The biggest surprise for me was probably how close Beryl came to beating Fluxbox, but looking at this chart maybe I shouldn't be surprised. As always, if you have any questions or feedback please do let me know.

Linux on Delta

I ran into the exact same screen during my Delta flight to LAX last week. The reboot occurred for me when the power seemed to blip for a second. I too was surprised that there was no customized boothsplash. From what I could tell during boot it's a 5-6 year old Red Hat variant that was doing a PXE-like boot and then remote mounting /usr/apps2 before going into a custom GUI. It still amazes me where and how consistently you see Linux pop up these days. I admit I was hoping it would reboot again so I could get more details, but no such luck.

The Nokia N800

After a long series of delays I am still in the airport waiting to fly home. They hope I'll be able to make it home tonight by about 2:30AM, but there are no guarantees. JFK is a huge mess. On to more interesting news, at the LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit Nokia was kind enough to lend an N800 to any speaker or media person who was interested in one. I gladly took advantage of the opportunity. For those of you who have seen the 770, this is an updated model. The end result of the demo? I walked to the Nokia Flagship Store on 57th and bought my own ;) The device is extremely slick and is 100% Linux based. In talking with a Nokia rep, over 90% of the stack is fully Open Sourced. That's the kind of products you just have to support. The network support in the device is quite good and it supports both WIFI and Bluetooth DUN via my Treo. This will allow me to leave my laptop home for short trips (I hope). The device has a ton of polish too. Touch a text input field with the stylist and a small touchscreen keyboard pops up. Touch it with your finger and a much larger touchscreen keyboard pops up. Those small niceties are all over the device. I'll likely post more as I really get into using it, but so far I am very impressed.

LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit Wrap-up

The Summit is now officially over. All and all a good show. The 'Ask the Experts' panel was the first unconference like event held at a LinuxWorld and based on this one they will likely move forward with future ones, which I was glad to hear. We tried a more conversational approach today and I think it worked much better. There is even some talk of remote video questions being an option in the future. I once again meet a bunch of great people and of course got to catch up with some people I haven't seen in a while. Chatted with Evan Prodromou about OpenID and MediaWiki for a while and I'm happy to announce we'll be rolling that out in the very near future. While not on the Ask the Experts panel I was able to attend a couple sessions. While some were not quite as technical as an expo like SCALE, the content was still very good. Microsoft threw a reception last night at the top of the hotel which was fairly well attended. The 49th floor rotates and has an amazing view of the city. Afterward I grabbed some dinner with a group that contained only one non-Jeremy (what are the odds on that ;) I think Jeremy White was kind enough to offer Don Marti temporary honorary Jeremy status. I definitely look forward to participating in this unconference style event anywhere they plan on offering it in the future. Thanks for having me Don.

Red Hat joins Microsoft interop initiative

A post in CBR points out that Red Hat has joined Microsoft's Interop Vendor Alliance. As the article points out though, this seems to be related to JBoss only (remember that JBoss was already working directly with Microsoft on interoperability). There is no mention of any other Red Hat related bits, such as RHEL or RHN. From the article:
While Red Hat has vowed not to pay Microsoft an “innovation tax” via a patent deal with the software giant, it has proven that it is not averse to working on interoperability and has signed up as a member of Microsoft’s Interop Vendor Alliance.
The IVA was formed in November with 25 other software and hardware vendors to ensure that their offerings are able to interoperate with Microsoft's Windows operating system and applications.
IVA members included Novell, of course, as well as other open source vendors including Sun, SugarCRM, XenSource and Centeris, as well as BEA, Business Objects, Citrix, Software AG, and Quest Software.
Missing from the list of open source vendors Microsoft had already struck an interoperability deal with was JBoss, despite their November 2005 integration agreement.
Red Hat’s decision to join the IVA makes sense given that agreement, and appears to be limited, at least at first, to the JBoss middleware stack.

Matt Asay says that the need for a group like this underscores that the market is currently broken in ways. From his post:
The strange thing in this announcement, and in the existence of the VIA, is that we have to talk about interoperability at all. It is precisely because the system is broken – with intellectual property rights driving vendors apart, rather than together – that something like this VIA is even remotely interesting.
But still I wonder if an industry alliance is the way to resolve the problem. Yes, you need scale/network effects to make something like this work. But in a large room filled with vendors who inherently distrust each other, I don’t see much interoperability emerging. Just lots of meetings about interoperability.
If the goal is to get one-on-one interaction, what good does the Alliance provide? Not much, in my view.

Since JBoss and Microsoft were already working together, it's hard to say what additional will be gained by this. It may have simply been to formalize the relationship and get a little PR, which is fine. What I wanted to point out here and what I think is important for some Novell execs to realize is that you don't see anyone freaking out about this… despite the fact that Microsoft is involved. The response by some seemed to be that the only reason the community reacted to the MSFT-NOVL deal the way they did was because it was a deal with Microsoft. Hopefully this points out that was definitively untrue. Working with Microsoft in places that are genuinely mutually beneficial is fine – some would even say it makes sense. After all, interop is absolutely key for customers and customers are really what it's all about in the end.