Sunday, April 30, 2006

Power Law of Participation Applied to Open Source

Ross Mayfield describes the Power Law of Participation as patterns that "have emerged where low threshold participation amounts to collective intelligence and high engagement provides a different form of collaborative intelligence" (Mayfield). Within this model, a large number of users of social websites will not have a high level of engagement thus taking advantage of the value with few contributions back to the community while other users will contribute most of the content. This generates two very different forms of intelligence, collective and collaborative, which co-exist together to form the essence of a community.

This reminded me of a number of studies on open source that support this idea. For example, a case study of the Apache project published in 2000 found that 80% to 90% of the submissions came from a set of 15 core developers in a community of more than 3000 people. A study of the GNOME project had similar results with 11 people contributing most of the output. Relating this back to the Power Law of Participation, the small number of core community members leads to collaborative intelligence, while the larger community provides an important collective intelligence by contributing bug reports, ideas, and comments. These two types of contributors and the resulting intelligence generated both feed off of each other and allow the community to prosper. I would be interested to see how this applies to other communities.


A case study of open source software development: The Apache server (Mockus, Fielding, & Herbsleb, 2000).

Effort, co-operation and co-ordination in an open source software project: GNOME (Koch & Schneider, 2002).

Free as in Freedom or Free Beer

I have heard a number of people talk about Richard Stallman's ideas in the context of wanting software to be free (as in price). This is a misunderstanding about how the Free Software Foundation defines the word "free" meaning freedom, including the freedom to view the source code, modify it, and redistribute it to others.

A recent incident in Brazil highlights this misunderstanding. At the 7th Annual International Free Software Forum, Stallman asked for a small donation to the Free Software Foundation (US$2.00 - $5.00) in exchange for the time that he spent signing autographs and posing for pictures. This resulted in a geek protest and march at the event. Richard Stallman responded with the following:

"I believe that all software ethically must be free, free in the sense of respecting the users' freedom, but I don't believe that software must be gratis--nor services, such as autographing or posing. Rather, I believe people deserve the freedom to decide whether to do these things. So I decline to support the newly formed gratis autograph movement. Instead, I hererby launch the free autographing movement, which advocates everyone's freedom to sign autographs or not." (NewsForge)

read more | digg story

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Can Linux ever be a True Desktop OS?

Rob Enderle does not think Linux will ever get traction as a desktop OS. He presents an interesting argument based on history with IBM's OS/2 and the OEM business model. He highlights a number of challenges including OEM costs, the number of Linux distributions, excessive advocacy, and more.

He also outlines "A Reliable Road Map to Linux Desktop Success"

"The list of clear requirements includes:

  • Clear OEM resources to match or exceed those currently provided by Microsoft. This would include R&D support and co-marketing dollars.
  • Embrace existing desktop requirements (roadmaps, application support, proprietary drivers, consistent patch releases schedules and documentation, clear escalation lines for support).
  • Seek out reasonable advocates who will take direction from their executives and not from other advocates.
  • Make it profitable for the OEM." (Enderle)

His conclusion is that he doubts these requirements can be achieved. I think that we have many challenges before Linux can become a viable solution for broad desktop deployment, but I am not quite this skeptical.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

More on Oracle and Open Source

A recent ZDNet interview with Jesper Anderson, Oracle's senior vice president for application strategy, shed some more light on Oracle's open source strategy. Oracle has a strong preference for the use of Linux internally at Oracle, which Anderson said is driven by Larry Ellison.

"I mean I've been in meetings with Larry where people walked in with purchase order requests for big Sun Solaris or HP-UX servers and Larry just looked at it and said 'Nope, denied'.

And then he turned around and said 'it's not the money, you come back to me with a purchase order, same amount or more for Linux, and I'll approve it right away'," Anderson said.

It was good to see that this strong preference for Linux usage internally at Oracle is not driven as a cost savings move, but for more strategic reasons.

Anderson also pointed out that "the service component of our software business is increasingly important. The maintenance revenue of our business is a bigger and bigger part of our business." This seems to be part of why they see open source as an opportunity for them. I am still concerned that Oracle may try to acquire a critical mass of open source companies, which would consolidate too much of the open source ecosystem under one company; however, with the Red Hat acquisition of JBoss, this is becoming less of a concern.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Open Source in Developing Nations

Earlier blogs have discussed the tremendous opportunity that open source could have for developing nations; however, this does not mean thinking of open source as a cheap alternative to Windows. The real opportunity for open source in developing nations is for governments to use open source as a way to grow the local software ecosystem by creating local support and services companies that help organizations more effectively use open source software. Local software companies can also use open source software as a starting point while building value added products on top of it.

Currently, many governments encourage the use of open source software; however, they have few open source developers. The UNU-IIST Global Desktop Project is working to address this issue. The UNU sees that

"Being a 'passive consumer' rather than an 'active participant' is not in a developing nation's best interest as both government and business will miss out on what essentially is the power of open source: technological self-determination. Of perhaps more immediate interest are the new businesses that are growing out of the open source phenomenon. Because the underlying technology is freely available, entrepreneurs can build value added products on top of open source software, giving startups quicker time to market while lowering development costs." (UNU)

The UNU-IIST Global Desktop Project is chartered with growing the number of open source developers in Asia by focusing on improving the open source desktop. It will be interesting to see the impact of open source over the next few years as governments start to focus less on using it as a low cost alternative and more on how they can leverage open source software in order to grow their local software ecosystem.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Open Source and Earth Day

I have been seeing quite a few Earth Day technology news stories and blogs over the past few days encouraging people to recycle old electronic equipment. An even better solution is when computer equipment can be reused to help the "needy get nerdy" (Free Geek). Free Geek will take donated computers and other electronic equipment and reuse as much as possible to create computers for those who need them. Materials that cannot be used again are sent only to recycling companies that handle them in an environmentally responsible manner.

The refurbished computers are loaded with open source software (Linux,, and more). To become eligible to receive one of these computers along with training on how to use it, a person must spend 24 hours volunteering at Free Geek. The original Free Geek is located in my adopted home town on Portland, OR, and additional Free Geeks have started sprouting up in other locations including my original home state of Ohio (Columbus); Chicago, Illinois; South Bend, Indiana; Olympia, WA; and Ephrata, PA.

Please consider contributing to these organizations by donating equipment or volunteering your time to support both the environment and open source software.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Open Source Bounties

Open source bounties are not a new concept, but I had not heard much about bounties lately, so I wanted to bring it up on this blog. Bounties are designed as a way to encourage development of a particular feature within an open source project. In most open source projects, developers contribute to those areas that are of greatest interest; Eric S. Raymond refers to this as "scratching a developer's personal itch." To encourage development of a particular feature, organizations and other individuals can offer a bounty usually in the form of a specified amount of money for the addition of a feature meeting certain criteria. As just one example, Novell offered a series of bounties for GNOME a few years ago and others have initiated similar bounties with other projects with mixed success. There are even companies like Bounty Source that provide tools to help facilitate this process. Lately, I have been hearing more about companies funding developers directly. For example, many large software companies, IBM, Intel, and many others, have people on their payroll who are responsible for contributing to open source projects like the Linux kernel.

I suspect that having people on staff to do open source development as a full time job is probably a slightly better solution for most companies. For smaller companies or companies that only want a few features, bounties might be a better option. Please feel free to add a comment to this blog if you have experience using either of these options and want to share the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How Open Source Could Win the Desktop

I have discussed the difficulties of getting wide adoption for Linux on the desktop in quite a few blog entries (here and here). In short, we have a chicken and the egg problem: there are not enough Linux desktop users for application vendors to justify the port to Linux on the desktop; however, users are not willing to move to desktop Linux until it supports the applications they require. I have also talked about the lack of vendor driver support that would allow users to plug and play with any device they happen to buy at the local electronics store (scanners, printers, digital cameras, MP3 players, etc.) The human tendency to resist change is another factor slowing the growth of the Linux desktop.

Apple, on the other hand, has done a better job of getting vendor and driver support for OS X. Cranky Geek, John C. Dvorak has suggested that Apple release OS X into open source, which is not as radical as it seems at first glance, since OS X is built on BSD.

"A cloud is rising over Mac OS X and its future unless Apple makes its boldest move ever: turning OS X into an open-source project. That would make the battle between OS X and Linux the most interesting one on the computer scene. With all attention turned in that direction, there would be nothing Microsoft could do to stem a reversal of its fortunes." (Dvorak)

Dvorak takes this idea in a different direction than what I am about to do; however, I found the idea of an open source operating system from Apple intriguing. Setting business issues about whether or not Apple would ever really do this and whether this would make good business sense for Apple aside for the time being, this idea is worth exploring. By building on Apple's current success with consumers and adding a solution that would be supported by the open source purists, Apple might be able to more effectively increase market segment share on the desktop. Under open source distribution licenses, it could also be used as a low cost alternative to Windows, particularly in emerging geographies. This makes the gigantic assumption that an open source OS X would also run on mainstream (not Apple-specific) hardware. Getting back to the business side of the equation, Apple would need to find an appropriate business model for open sourcing OS X, which could include a basic open source version with an up-sell to a premium version or a support and services model.

Taken to the extreme, we could position Linux as a server operating system and open source OS X as the open source desktop solution; however, I think that this is a bit extreme. A more likely case is that we could get consumers to start embracing an open source OS X desktop solution, which might also drive increased demand for Linux on the desktop helping to resolve the chicken and egg issue.

In reality, an open source OS X is probably a highly unlikely scenario, but it would make for a very interesting environment.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Will Oracle Acquire Novell?

Larry Ellison recently suggested that Oracle might consider acquiring Novell as a way to expand into the Linux operating system business and to increase Oracle's presence in the rapidly growing open source software market. In the past year, Oracle purchased open source database companies Sleepycat and Innobase and was rumored to have been in acquisition talks with MySQL, JBoss, and Zend. MySQL's CEO Marten Mickos has been quoted in the press as saying that MySQL turned down offers from Oracle. On the other hand, JBoss did decide to be acquired; however, it was Red Hat, not Oracle, who made the purchase.

I do not think that Oracle is likely to acquire Novell at least not at in the immediate future. This looks more like posturing aimed at Red Hat, which now competes more directly with Oracle as a result of the JBoss acquisition. I also think that Novell is still assimilating SUSE and other open source acquisitions making them a difficult company to acquire.

In reality, who knows what will happen in this unpredictable M&A environment. If my years of experience in the technology industry have taught me anything, it is that Larry Ellison is not predictable.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Open Source as a Fragmented Market

Dana Blankenhorn blogged about a recent Evans Data report that described the open source market as fragmented. He goes on to say, "The whole premise of the study shows just how little most analysts know about open source as a concept." (Blankenhorn). He ends the article with these questions, "Who are the leaders? I have no idea. The game has just started. Who do you think the leaders are?" (Blankenhorn). If I am reading this right, he is saying that open source is not fragmented, but that it is too early to tell who the leaders are.

Interesting. I suspect that he might be misunderstanding some of the terminology used in the study. A fragmented market or industry is defined as an environment where "no firm has a significant market share … usually fragmented industries are populated by a large number of small- and medium-sized companies" (Michael Porter, Competitive Strategy, p. 191). In other words, a market where there are no clear leaders.

In some cases, the market will eventually consolidate and in other cases it will not. This does not in any way reflect poorly on open source or imply that the open source communities themselves are fragmented. By most definitions, open source is a fragmented market with many smaller organizations providing a wealth of products, but with few clear market leaders. Fragmentation within a market is common when the market has diverse needs and when it is new (Porter), and open source seems to align with both of these ideas. I do agree with Dana that it is too early to identify any clear leaders, and over time we will see how open source software evolves.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Microsoft's New Open Source Site Generates Firestorm

The Microsoft Open Source Software Lab's new Port 25 site has generated quite a bit of discussion over the past week. The site asks people to "Send us your feedback and ideas. We want to hear from you." (Port 25). In the case of public forums, especially at a company as visible as Microsoft, people may just take you up on the offer.

As GM found with their 'Write Your Own Ad' campaign, you will get some feedback that you want and some that you do not want. In Microsoft's case, "There have been hundreds of blog posts and hundreds of emails sent – both through the feedback aliases and many that you have sent directly to me. There have been rants, demands, questions, encouragement, suspicion, affirmation, ideas, pontifications and guidance." (Bill Hilf, Microsoft)

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Portland, Free Wireless, and Open Source

I am excited that Portland, OR will be getting free wireless access starting with a few test areas downtown this summer and citywide access in one to two years. This project has been in the works for a while, and the contract was awarded to MetroFi yesterday.

Since this is an open source blog, I did some digging and found out that they use open source squid proxy server systems, Linux, PHP, and other open source technologies. They are also hiring.

Thanks to Todd for sending me the link!

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Firefox Flicks

Only three days left to submit your Firefox Flicks.

For those who want to see the flicks that have already been submitted, the new Firefox Flicks web site just went live with the first three videos, and they plan on adding a few new ones each day.

read more | digg story

Monday, April 10, 2006

Open Source Taxes, the IRS, and Dr. Seuss

Austan Goolsbee wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times about how Americans face an overwhelming burden every year spending time and money to file tax forms. Much of the information entered onto the tax forms is information that has already been sent to the IRS leading Goolsbee to suggest that the IRS could aggregate this information and send each of us a form with this information already pre-filled meeting the needs of the majority of taxpayers with fairly simple returns. This idea led Tim O'Reilly to comment, "Web 2.0 you say? Well yes. If Google were running the IRS, it's what they'd do."

This started me thinking …

What if the IRS was run by open source? Would we have collaborative tax returns? I could opt-in to the "open source taxes" program on the IRS site to start my return, which could be populated with the information that the IRS already has on file. Other organizations could collaboratively add information to my return (charitable deductions, etc.) I could collaborate with other tax preparers for free help and advice or pay someone like a traditional tax preparation company to provide this type of support and service (the Red Hat business model). Some savvy programmers would create nifty open source tools that allow me to simplify my tax return for certain obscure, long-tail scenarios that I share with only 25 other people in the world.

"If I ran the zoo, I'd make a few changes. That's just what I'd do." Dr. Seuss.

Red Hat acquires JBoss

We knew that JBoss was shopping around, and it looks like Red Hat made the acquisition today. It sounds like a pretty good match. They have similar business models, and Red Hat is intimately familiar with the tools and infrastructure market (Cygnus / GCC, for example). It will be interesting to see how the two corporate cultures come together.

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

This Week in Open Source News Apr 3 - Apr 9

LinuxWorld Expo was held this week in Boston, and it was the first LinuxWorld that I missed since before 2001. There are too many news stories and press releases to cover here (not to mention the fire in the Unisys booth!), but I will try to cover a sample of the most interesting news.

The Portland Project Evolves

OSDL's Portland project announced the technology preview for a new set of common interfaces for the GNOME & KDE Linux Desktops that are intended to make it easier for software vendors to port applications to Linux. With no common interface, vendors currently need to port applications to both GNOME & KDE. OSDL hopes that this will help increase the number of applications that are available on Linux desktops.

Stuart Cohen, CEO of OSDL, also hopes that Microsoft will port Office to Linux when Linux on the desktop has achieved critical mass. "Cohen considers the move inevitable in the same way that Microsoft eventually opted to run Office on Apple Computer" (InfoWorld). It will be interesting to see if Microsoft ever supports Office on Linux. A few months ago, I might have laughed at this idea; however, the next story leads me to believe that this might be a possibility at some point in the future.

Microsoft Gets Cozy with Linux

No, hell has not frozen over and pigs still cannot fly; however, Microsoft has announced support for Linux with Virtual Server 2005 R2. Virtualization is becoming widely used in IT shops and hardware vendors are adding support for it in the hardware, and Microsoft seems to want to keep pace with other virtualization products like Xen and VMware.

Microsoft also launched a new website to showcase their open source efforts and their interoperability with Linux and Unix. Right now, it is mostly blogs from researchers in Microsoft's Open Source Software labs, and it will be interesting to see how this evolves.

Sun and Open Source DRM

Open source and DRM do not seem like two concepts that should be in the same sentence; however, Sun thinks that it just might be crazy enough to work. The idea behind the open source DRM is that consumers can have a little more flexibility with how they can use their DRM content, while the media companies can still protect their content. Even Lawrence Lessig, who still believes in a DRM-free world, thinks that as far as DRMs go, Sun's open source DRM is not too bad.

Norway Increases Use of Open Source Software

Every week, I try to highlight one example of a government or company embracing open source, and this week Norway announced that they will start using more open source software to reduce dependence on large, international companies like Microsoft.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Firefox for Kids

Dietrich Ayala, Firefox engineer, presented to 120 fourth graders as part of career day on various topics including Firefox, Mozilla, and open source software. Here are a few of the more interesting quotes from his presentation notes:

  • Though almost every kid said they surfed the web, when I asked if they knew what a "browser" was, only a couple kids knew. However, I know that they actually *were* surfing the web because of the questions that they asked. It seemed that the browser was a piece of infrastructure that blended into their general computer experience.
  • Anywhere from 5-10 kids in each group had heard of Firefox.
  • 1-2 kids in each group had heard of “open-source”.
  • The kids knew of viruses and phishing. They didn’t understand what they were, but knew that they were bad, and from the internet.
  • They thought the Firefox logo was cool. They thought the Mozilla logo was cooler :) Especially the boys. Several started grilling me on the anatomical incorrectness of the dinosaur: “If it’s from the pleocistene family it’d have a bump on it’s head and the nostrils would be in a different place.” I had no response to that. (Dietrich)

I suspect that some of these findings would apply to adults, too. Many people do not really understand what a browser is or what viruses and phishing are.

read more | digg story

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hippies, Open Source and Web 2.0

I listened to an interesting episode of Inside the Net hosted by Amber MacArthur & Leo Laporte interviewing Brian Oberkirch and Alexander Muse from Big In Japan. Most of the time was spent reviewing Big In Japan's products, which sounded pretty cool; however, the most interesting part for me was a discussion about the differences in the dot-com era and the current web 2.0 craze.

During the dot-com bubble, money was king. The entire technology industry was obsessed with stock prices, and we spent an inordinate amount of time talking about IPOs, venture capital investments, and exit strategies.

This time around in the web 2.0 craze, the industry is behaving completely differently. Money is still important (we all need to pay our bills), but people do not seem quite as obsessed with money. The current web 2.0 environment is less about closely guarding your business model and more about being open: open source software, open APIs, mashups, and more. The web 2.0 culture seems to be about sharing and doing things that we love doing. Leo Laporte compared the current environment of cooperation, harmony, and altruism to the hippie culture of the 60s.

I think that open source has influenced the current web 2.0 culture. Open source has always been about sharing the source code to provide an opportunity to customize it to fit a particular need. Similarly, the web 2.0 environment is about opening up your data and allowing it to be used freely in creative ways through mashups or other mechanisms. Google Maps is one of the leading examples of this phenomenon.

The open source business models are also starting to mature and are beginning to demonstrate that companies can make money with open source software, which means that people can do something altruistic that they love doing while still making enough money to pay the bills. IBM is an interesting example; they sponsor developers who contribute to the Linux kernel and they contribute code through initiatives like Eclipse knowing that they will be able to sell related services, up-sell customers to more expensive products, and sell related hardware because of their work will open source. Web 2.0 seems to be learning from the mistakes and successes of open source with similar business models. For example, Big In Japan uses consulting and up-sell business models to support the tools that they provide free of charge.

Web 2.0 and open source companies will be interesting to watch over the next few years to see how the business models evolve to understand how sustainable these models are over the long term.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Is Open Source like VB?

Stephen O'Grady discussed an interesting idea on his blog about how open source is like visual basic:

"They share an important, even crucial, attribute: the ability to dramatically expand the size of their potential audience and userbase. How they accomplish that end differs dramatically; in the case of VB, it was largely a focus on simplification, ease of use and an improved toolset, while open source has relied more on transparency, low (or no) cost, inherent distribution advantages and collaborative development. The net result, in either case, is a dramatically expanded potential audience." (tecosystems / RedMonk)

At first glance, I did not agree with the open source is like VB concept; however, as I was writing my response, I noticed more and more similarities finally coming up with one primary theme. Open source and VB were able to expand their audience and user base only when they shifted the balance of power into the hands of the end user rather than keeping all of the power with the developer.

The beauty of VB was that it was so easy to use that anyone could program in it. From my experience, the people using VB did not typically come from a traditional programming background; they were ordinary users or new programmers who now had the ability to easily and quickly write programs. Previously, this could only be accomplished with years of education and programming experience. With VB, the power was now in the hands of the users and not the hard core programmers.

Open source, on the other hand, began with developers scratching an itch (as Eric Raymond would say), but open source programs were often difficult or impossible for an ordinary person to install and use. It was not until open source software began embracing the end user as a primary customer that they were able to expand quickly. Firefox is a perfect example; users can easily get Firefox, install it, and find extensions and themes that allow them to customize their environment. Firefox, like VB, puts the power into the hands of the users rather than keeping it in the hands of the developers.

In summary, with VB and open source, putting the power into the hands of the end users seems to have a dramatic impact on how quickly the audience expands.

Server Catches on Fire at LinuxWorld

Sure, the first time that I miss LinuxWorld since before 2001 and something catches on fire. Oh well, the fire was probably more interesting than the keynotes.

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Mozilla Donates $10K to OpenBSD

Shortly after a plea for funding made by OpenBSD, Mozilla announced that they have donated $10K for OpenBSD, OpenSSH, and related development activities. Mozilla had several reasons for making this donation:

"In particular the Mozilla project uses SSH extensively for various purposes, including securing connections to the Mozilla CVS repository. The OpenBSD and OpenSSH projects have been experiencing some financial difficulties, and based on their importance to the Mozilla project and to the wider open source and free software world we felt that it was well worth showing our support for them." (Mozilla Foundation)

Open BSD has consistently faced shortages of about $20K per year, which has been making it difficult to sustain development on the project. Hopefully, this funding will help OpenBSD at least in the short term.

read more | digg story

Monday, April 03, 2006

Purpose-Driven Technology and Open Source

Richard Silkos of the New York Times and Tim O'Reilly have been discussing a newly coined term, "purpose-driven media" adapted from Rick Warren's concept of "A Purpose-Driven Life":

"These are new-media ventures that leave the competition scratching their heads because they don't really aim to compete in the first place; their creators are merely taking advantage of the economics of the online medium to do something that they feel good about. They would certainly like to cover their costs and maybe make a buck or two, but really, they're not in it for the money. By purely commercial measures, they are illogical." (New York Times)

Craigslist is a great example of purpose-driven media. They are providing strong competition for newspaper classified ads; however, Craigslist's goal was not to make large amounts of money. It was designed to be a community resource. The New York Times article and Tim's blog both pointed to Firefox as another example of purpose-driven media.

I am not sure that open source software is really purpose-driven "media", since media usually refers to newspapers, magazines, blogs and other sources focused on content. A more appropriate term might be "purpose-driven technology" referring more to the method of creation (open source software) rather than a media outlet.

Open source software fits well within the Christensen disruptive innovation model by approaching the market in a very different way to fill a niche need along the edge of the market, but then grows to displace the mainstream market. This idea ties into the purpose-driven technology concept for open source software especially well when you consider the origin of many open source software projects and how they began to fill their niche market. Linux started when Linus Torvalds wanted a Unix-like system that ran on less expensive hardware for his own use. Linus did not start this project to make money or disrupt an industry; however, the end result was purpose-driven technology that may have seemed like an illogical competitor for Microsoft and Unix operating systems from an economic perspective. Many other open source software products had similar beginnings and a similar purpose-driven technology as a result.

Firefox Reaches 10% Market Share

According to Net Applications, Firefox According to Net Applications, Firefox now has 10.05% of the browser market share for March 2006 behind Internet Explorer, which has 84.7%.

It is great to see how the scrappy underdog has grown to 10% market share through innovation and grassroots, word of mouth advertising.

read more | digg story

Sunday, April 02, 2006

This Week in Open Source Software Mar 27 - Apr 2

Is Marc Fleury of JBoss One of the Most Hated Men in Open Source?

The latest edition of BusinessWeek did a feature article on Marc Fleury of JBoss, which portrays him as one of the "bad boys" of open source software. The article includes the following gems:

"Brash, outspoken, and frequently insulting, Fleury has clawed his way to the top of the open-source pile over the past six years. Part of the dislike arises because he's a threat."

"Meanwhile, some open-source companies are put off by what they say is Fleury's money-grubbing, controlling style. It's out of keeping, they say, with the cooperative, do-it-for-the-greater-good ethos of the open-source movement." (BusinessWeek)

Marc responded to the article on his blog:

"One of the advantages of achieving a little notoriety is that you get to spend time telling young journalists about what a 'bad boy' you are. The aftermath: you get to read the ensuing portrait of a money grubber who’s 'clawed his way' to the top of the open source pile (of what, kaka?) and who communicates via a 'fervent, almost preachy and completely self-serving blog.'

"Don’t get me wrong I am actually EXTREMELY GRATEFUL for the article, Sarah, I mean it is not every day that ANYONE gets a full-featured article in BW. This is more publicity than I could ever hope for and I did get a chuckle out of reading it, so thanks." (Enter the JBoss Matrix)

Another Open Source Win for Healthcare

Catholic Healthcare West, the largest non-profit healthcare provider in California, moves to open source as part of an initiative to consolidate systems and increase efficiency. The flexibility of open source software allows them to more effectively meet the restrictive regulatory requirements of this industry. Eric Leader, Chief Technical Architect for Catholic Healthcare West said, "In general, IT in the healthcare industry tends to lag. They are slow to adopt and risk-averse." (Newsforge) I have previously discussed the risk-averse nature of the healthcare industry, which makes these examples of open source usage even more compelling than similar ones in industries with greater tolerance for risk.

Venezuela Promotes Open Source Software

Many governments promote open source software as a way to stimulate the local economy, reduce costs, and avoid supporting the large, multinational, American companies. Venezuela is the latest example with the Science and Technology Ministry recently holding an event to promote the use of Linux and other open source software in place of Microsoft solutions. The ministry said that this is part of a move toward "technological sovereignty, and taking advantage of knowledge for building national scientific independence." (AP)

Former Sun Exec Asks Sun to Open Source Java

Peter Yared, former Chief Technologist at Sun and currently the CEO of ActiveGrid, posted an open letter to Jonathon Schwartz questioning Sun's decision to open source Solaris and SPARC, but not the Java virtual machine. It has generated some press attention, but I have not seen a response from Sun yet. Sun has answered this question before, but typically in convoluted terms that do not really explain why open sourcing Java should be different from the other products that Sun has released into open source, so it will be interesting to see how Sun responds to this request.

An Update on the City of Tuttle, CentOS, Jerry Taylor Saga

I blogged about the City of Tuttle story earlier this week, so please read this post first if you are not familiar with the background. This week the local paper, The Tuttle Times, reported on the event that captured attention from around the world. In the article, Jerry Taylor was quoted as saying:

“'This is just a bunch of freaks out there that don’t have anything better to do,' he said. 'When I came in to work Monday morning, I had about 500 e-mails, plus anonymous phone calls from all the geeks out there. [CentOS is] a free operating system that this guy gives away, which tells you how much time he’s got on his hands.'"

"Taylor said that the mistake could have happened to anyone, and he stands by what he did."

Despite all that has happened,

"Mayor Paxton said that the city manager knows a lot more about computers than he does, and he trusts Taylor." (The Tuttle Times)

Interesting choice.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Happy April Fools Day!

City of Redmond, WA Goes Open Source

In an unprecedented move, the city of Redmond, Washington has announced a plan to migrate all local government offices and public schools to Linux running The city is also creating a program that will provide other incentives (tax advantages, discount plans, etc.) to local businesses that chose to follow the city's lead in adopting Linux and other open source software. This will be one of the largest migrations to Linux on the desktop.

This move has ruffled a few feathers at Microsoft's corporate headquarters in Redmond. One senior executive made the following statement, "I can't believe that this happened in our own backyard! F***ing jerks. We are now evaluating a relocation of our corporate headquarters to Fargo, ND where we can finally get some respect." A Fargo, ND government official who asked me not to use his name had only this to say, "we don't want them!"

Happy April Fools Day!