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:


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.


The fight over Open Source 'leeches'

Open Source “leeches” seems to be getting a lot of press lately, and this article is just one example:

Open source is supposed to be all about community, but as commercial open source becomes the norm, fewer developers are giving back. Is that hurting open source?

Your ear doesn’t have to be pressed to the ground for long to hear angry grumblings in the open source community about leeches, vampires, or freeloaders.

“The future of Eclipse is in danger,” Michael Scharf, a member of the Eclipse Foundation’s architecture council, said in an angry April blog post. “The problem is that there is no real pressure for companies to contribute back to the community and it is easy to use the Eclipse ‘for free’ for their own products. The Eclipse community should create peer pressure to prevent the freeloaders and parasites from getting away without punishment,” he wrote.

Scharf likens the lack of contributions back to the community to the “tragedy of the commons,” in which greedy individuals unthinkingly destroy a shared resource. And in an e-mail exchange, he put it this way: “The general mentality of the industry frustrates me; the attitude to take advantage of something like open source and not give back anything to the system.”

I see a couple issues with this mindset. First, a project initially has the right to pick any license they like. Later complaining that people who are following that license aren’t giving back seems a little disingenuous. If you want mandatory contributions, pick a license that requires that (keep in mind that as a result it will almost certainly not be Open Source software). Note that the issue is being confounded by the fact that some companies are violating licenses and therefore are leeches that need to be dealt with appropriately. Be careful not to confuse these two groups, they should be treated very differently. It should also be noted that a specific individual or group using but not contributing to a particular project does not really “destroy a shared resource”. Since that additional usage doesn’t deplete a finite resource, I’m not sure the tragedy of the commons really comes into play here.

Secondly, all too often I see “giving code” and “contributing” as seen as synonymous. There are many ways that some corporations contribute without code being involved in any way. There are the obvious cases such as documentation or having employees participate in support forums such as LQ. There are others that are little more subtle though. Employing people who tout their Open Source skills creates an ecosystem that creates further demand for a project and for Open Source. The more demand for a project there is, the more likely there will be demand for that projects commercial services or products.

There are many other ways to contribute to a project. From inadvertent promotion which helps create mindshare and awareness to finding bugs which helps create better software, I think we need to expand our definition of contribution in many ways. For many projects, having a large number of “non-contributing” users is what made the project itself interesting in the first place.

Look, I’m not saying that some companies aren’t leeches, they are. I’m also not saying that as a community we don’t need to find better ways to foster more and better contributions, because we do. The shift from purely idealogical almost dogmatic Open Source to a more commercial Open Source seems inexorable at this point though, and working through these issues in a pragmatic way should be seen as in the best interest of all parties. While we have to be extremely careful to preserve the ideals and beliefs that got us here and that make Open Source what it is, we also have to be cognizant that change isn’t always bad.


Oracle Sun Acquisition Musings

A little time has past since the announcement that Oracle would acquire Sun. While there are still many unanswered questions, I thought I’d post a quick update on the topic.

The first topic I’ll cover is the Sun hardware business. From a recent interview with Larry (via Ostatic):

“No, we are definitely not going to exit the hardware business. While most hardware businesses are low-margin, companies like Apple and Cisco enjoy very high-margins because they do a good job of designing their hardware and software to work together. If a company designs both hardware and software, it can build much better systems than if they only design the software. That’s why Apple’s iPhone is so much better than Microsoft phones.”

Ellison also confirms in the interview that far from discontinuing the SPARC chip, he intends to increase investment in it. “We think designing our own chips is very, very important,” he said. He also notes that Sun outsources almost all of its manufacturing to companies such as Fujitsu.

So it looks like Oracle will indeed be pursuing the “entire stack” path that many predicted. One major benefit to Oracle here is that if a customer is getting both their hardware and software (including both the OS and applications) from the same company, it makes switching away from that company extremely costly and complicated.

That brings us to the OS. It’s still not clear to me which way Oracle is going to go here. Long term I can’t see Solaris and Linux being first class citizens within Oracle. Which one they choose remains to be seen. They “own” Solaris in a way they could never “own” Linux, which may be the deciding factor for a company like Oracle. That being said, I’d imagine more of their customers want Linux so it’s certainly not going to be an easy decision. Some are speculating (via Matt) that if Oracle does go with Solaris that a company like IBM may acquire Red Hat. I’m not so sure about that, but it is a possibility. While IBM does really like Linux, Jboss would be a major duplication for IBM (and it represents a lot of the growth potential within Red Hat).

Finally, here’s a recent announcement regarding MySQL:

The following was in the just released monthly bug report for the Falcon storage engine:

“With the news that Sun has aggreed to be purchaced by Oracle, Some inevitable changes will occur. Once the acquisition is made, the need for Falcon as a MySQL storage engine will be re-evaluated. Until then, Falcon will continue to improve stability and performance. The team will also evaluate other technical niches that may be unique to Falcon.”

I for one would be very disappointed to see Falcon not supported by Oracle. I know they have worked very hard to create a next-generation storage engine. While it could be argued that InnoDB can fill all use cases, I believe that choices are a good thing and having one less choice is not a good thing.

Good luck all on the team. You have been nothing but kind and generous when answering my dumb questions via email and in person. You can count my vote for “keep it!!”.

I think it’s clear that this acquisition will mean some significant changes for the future path of MySQL. The fact that a lot of upcoming MySQL-related innovation may come from outside the company, and from places like the Open Database Alliance should at least ensure that MySQL remains viable from a technology standpoint.


Panel: The Linux Kernel – What's Next (Liveblog)

Ted T’so – CTO Linux Foundation
Greg Kroah-Hartman – Novell
Andrew Morton – Google
Keith Packard –

* 2.6.30
– now has a staging tree
– moving forward, focus will be on fixing what is already there.
– Intel stuff mostly “just works”. Lot of work going into ATi Radeon right now. nVidia is still not supporting native Linux efforts “at all”. Via is starting to engage the Linux community.
– each driver is a fairly concerted effort. There is a lot of silicon, complexity and logic in GPU’s these days.
– with most graphic stuff now in kernel, it’s easier to get started with small new experimental interesting projects.
* Filesystems
– ext4 – 2 community distros will ship in the near future with ext4 enabled. Fedora 11 may make it the default.
– most recent bugs have not involved data loss.
– ext4 really represents a short term safe solution, but is based on old technology. Long term there will be a different answer.
– btrfs and nilfs are two of those.
– Are there too many filesystems?
* Linux Next
– comprised of over 100 branches
– has taken a lot of work out of doing -mm. He’d like to see it get more uptake, but think it’s still been a success overall.
* Is there a point where the Linux kernel community gets too big?
– the velocity of change remains astounding.
– there have been a lot of new “silos” and even subsystems that have popped up that have not been vetted by any of the old timers. This can cause issues.
* Audience question: There is a big push to get things in mainline, but often when someone actually tries to do that they run into a lot of opposition. How can this be improved?
– touch the kernel core as little as possible (systemtap was used as an example) and if you do, the code better be *very* good. If it’s a new driver or small subsystem, send it to Greg for Linux Next.
– utrace ran into the chicken and egg problem. Not enough users to get merged, but difficult to get users before you are in mainline.
– Knowing how to push a patch to the kernel community makes a big difference.
* Where do we stand with tracing?
– part of the problem will be evangelizing that tracers exist in the kernel.
– there is a large amount of interest in tracing now. A lot of what is going on now is experimentation and we’re still learning. Documentation is still poor, but they continue to get more usable.
* Audience question: What is being done to foster the next generation of kernel maintainers?
– Is actually something some of the current core maintainers think about. Being welcome, open and honest is a lot of it.
– The code is complex and growing rapidly. Just getting to know the memory system well could take 6-12 months. It’s a serious time commitment,
* nftables
– what would a migration from iptables look like? A long process that would take 4+ years and would require serious vendor buyin. It has been done before.
– maintaining compatibility with the `iptables` command could help.
– in almost all cases, maintaining backward compatibility is a lot of work.
* A lot of new companies who never contributed to the Linux kernel are now doing so.
* There are now 1,200 contributors and the mix of sources is extremely varied.


Headed to SCaLE 7X

I’ll be heading to Los Angeles for the weekend to attend the Southern California Linux Expo. I’ve tried to make SCaLE a yearly trip and it’s one of my favorite Linux conferences. If you’ll be anywhere near LA February 20-22, I encourage you to stop by the Westin LAX. If you do make it to SCaLE, be sure to stop by the dotorg section of the expo floor and visit the LQ booth (#35). See you in sunny southern California.


The MySQL exodus at Sun

It looks like the exodus of top MySQL execs from Sun is in full swing. Yesterday, Monty posted the following:

Time to move on
I have now departed from Sun and joined my own company, Monty Program Ab.

There were a lot of rumors around me resigning in August/September last year. I didn’t back then want to comment on the rumors, because I was still trying to work something out with Sun. Now I can finally describe a bit of what was going on.

In this case, the rumors had some elements of truth to them. I had told management that I thus would be submitting my resignation immediately as I strongly believed that the 5.1 release was not ready and that those problems needed to be fixed before it went GA. This action, together with other peoples´ efforts, did have the wanted effect and I made an agreement with Sun´s upper management to not initiate my resignation but instead stay around for three more months to help Sun work out things in MySQL Development and also give Sun a chance to create an optimal role for me within Sun.

The three months did stretch out to seven months, and the changes I had hoped Sun would apply to in the MySQL Database group to fix our development and community problems did not happen fast enough.

Sun and I concluded in the end that I have much higher chances of achieving my goals outside of Sun, so it’s just better to swallow the bitter apple, go out and get things going. We parted in good terms and we both expect to continue to do business and work together.

As you probably know, Monty is one of the two co-founders of MySQL AB. The other co-founder, David Axmark, left Sun last year. It’s often the case that founders leave the acquiring company after a little while, so neither of these came as a huge surprise to me. Today, however, we got the news that Marten Mickos is leaving Sun amid a reorg:

I just got news that Marten Mickos, former MySQL CEO, is to depart Sun amid a reorganisation of its infrastructure and database business units. Don’t expect an announcement from Sun on this, but the news is confirmed.

It seems that Sun is combining its Software Infrastructure organization with its Database Group to form a unified open source product group under the leadership of Karen Tegan Padir, vice president of MySQL & Software Infrastructure.

Marten was the long time CEO and really helped MySQL AB grow from a business perspective. Sometimes that growth came at the cost of angering the MySQL community. While founder Monty was a tech guy, Marten was a business guy. To see him leave so soon is much more of a surprise to me. Combined, these three losses are huge for Sun, and may start to raise questions not only about the future of MySQL within Sun… but about the future of Sun in general. Sun has done some very innovative things in the past, but has clearly been going through a bit of a cultural shift internally. I always saw the MySQL AB acquisition as a potential way to help spread the Open Source mantra inside a company that was a bit conflicted. It will be interesting to see how Sun moves forward from here.


Where have all the community managers gone?

Jay Lyman points out a trend that I’ve noticed as well (not just in terms of headcount, but in general resource allocation). From the post:

However, as we have seen open source vendors trimming headcount just like many other companies in search of controlling costs and weathering the storm during recent months, community managers seem to be on the line among the layoffs. It’s not surprising to see these positions — which bridge commercial and community open source and tie vendors to their developers and users — thriving when times are good and companies are willing to invest in community, but suffering in difficult times, when the community may seem a less critical investment. This can be particularly true as vendors look at their sources of revenue and consider cuts wherever they can outside of that.

However, as we covered in an interesting discussion of the value of community on our last CAOS podcast, there is opportunity in sustaining an open source community in difficult times, even though it may be less of a revenue producer and more of an investment given users, developers and other community members are even less likely to be paying. Don’t get me wrong, there continue to be key people serving as community managers, and I invite them to chime in on whether or not they’re seeing colleagues on the block. Still, we’ve seen more than a few community-centered positions among the layoffs from open source vendors.

In the end, open source vendors that are willing and able to continue building, strengthening and investing in their communities — and we do see vendors catering to community users and even monetizing them via per-incident support, documentation and other services — are the ones who will benefit most when things begin turning around.

It’s the last paragraph that I’d like to underscore and reiterate. Let your community atrophy at your own peril. When things turn around, and at some point they certainly will, the companies who continue to foster and grow their communities will be in a much better position to benefit. It’s easy to forget this when the going gets tough, but as with most things you shouldn’t lose focus on mid and long term success even when short term issues change the game.


The Art Of Community

I just came across the announcement that Jono will be releasing a new O’Reilly book called Art Of Community.

Today I am proud as punch to announce the Art Of Community.

A while back I was approached by Andy Oram, a senior editor at O’Reilly to write a definitive book about how to grow, build and energise a community. This book will be called the Art Of Community.

The book covers a wide range of topics designed to build strong community. This includes the structure and social economy behind community, building effective and easy to use infrastructure, setting up community processes, creating buzz and excitement, governance, conflict resolution, scalability and more.

This book is much more than merely a textbook on building a compelling community. I believe that we learn how to build strong community through the exchange of stories and experiences. We all have great insight into community. These stories are illustrative vessels for important lessons and subtleties in how great communities work. The Art Of Community is a compendium of stories, anecdotes and experiences inside and outside the Open Source world.

Congrats to Jono and O’Reilly on an idea that I think has a ton of potential. As someone who runs a little community myself, the content of both the book and the website are something I’ll keep a close eye on. One thing I’ve learned about community is that the rules are always changing; you always have new things to learn, new ideas to implement and places to improve. I think that’s one of the reasons that after over 8 1/2 years of running LQ, I remain as excited and dedicated as the day I started it.

There’s one other part of the announcement I think is of note:

The release of Art Of Community is actually rather exciting. The book will be available in two forms.

* Firstly, there will be a normal printed copy available to buy. This will be available from the usual places you can buy O’Reilly books.
* Secondly, The book will also be available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. This provides everyone with the opportunity to share, modify and re-use the content.



Voting for the 2008 Members Choice Awards is Now Open

It’s that time once again. Voting for the 2008 Members Choice Awards is now open. The Members Choice Awards allow the Linux community to select their favorite products in a variety of categories. This is now the eighth year we’ve done the MCA’s, and we try to improve the polls every year. It involves striking a tough balance between having too many awards and having nominees in certain categories that quite simply are not directly comparable. There are 26 categories this year, and as always we’re open to feedback on how we can improve next year. We always pre-announce the categories to get feedback and then post the nominees a few days before the polls open, to ensure we can add any apps we may have missed. Congratulations to all those who were nominated and good luck! The polls will close on February 12th. Vote Now!