Friday, March 31, 2006

Use and Misuse of Data

I want to remind people to look carefully at the source of your information in order to determine credibility. A recent IDC study, sponsored by Microsoft, found that when most organizations migrate from Unix, they migrate to Windows, not Linux. I have been involved in enough market research to know that the questions asked can have a large impact on the results of any study. Maybe this study is accurate, but I would tend not to rely on it to support any arguments the same way that I would not rely on a report sponsored by a Linux vendor to answer the same research question. The best data comes from un-sponsored research conducted by an independent, neutral third party. Many organizations have a vested interest in open source (positive and negative), and many studies are sponsored by organizations on both sides of the open source vs. proprietary software debate. As a result, it is especially important to evaluate the credibility of our sources.

I am reminded of the famous saying, "lies, damned lies, and statistics", which has been attributed to various people including Mark Twain and Benjamin Disraeli.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Users and Open Source Software

Blake Ross wrote an interesting blog entry yesterday about Internet Explorer and Firefox that highlights the chasm between developers and users of software. Many of us think nothing of using the command prompt, FTP, and other utilities that are second nature to us, while some users have never installed a piece software and do not even know what a browser is. They use one and know that they access the Internet; however, some confuse it with a search engine, and others do not realize that it is an independent application separate from the operating system.

One of the challenges of the SpreadFirefox campaign has been in educating these users. "So you can imagine convincing someone to download an 'alternative' to a product he didn’t know he used, in a genre of software he never knew existed," (Blake Ross). Developers and other techies frequently make the argument about technical superiority (it is better, so people will use it). "These kinds of arguments ignore an entire spectrum of barriers facing 'regular people' that we developers never contend with, and I think our industry would do well to empathize with them," (Blake Ross).

If we want average users to adopt open source technologies, we need to remove our techie hats for a bit to help them understand 'why' they should use it while talking in a language that appeals to them.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Open Source Dress Code

According to Peter Quinn, the former Massachusetts CIO advocate of the OpenDocument Format (ODF),

"Open source has an unprofessional appearance, and the community needs to be more business-savvy in order to start to make inroads in areas traditionally dominated by commercial software vendors. (Having) a face on a project or agenda makes it attractive for politicians (to consider open source)." (CNET)

He went on to suggest that while the open-source community was slowly beginning to come to terms with the need to dress for success, doing so is a "huge education process." (CNET)

Yikes. I would like to think that we live in an age where people can evaluate a technology based on its merits and not based on the clothes that someone wears.

read more | digg story

Monday, March 27, 2006

Open Source Confusion

This is only slightly related to open source; however, it was way too humorous not to share. The short story is that a slightly clueless local city official (Jerry A. Taylor) in Oklahoma mistook an Apache / CentOS misconfiguration page for a malicious attack against several of the cities web servers. Despite the several threatening and misinformed emails to the CentOS team, a developer at CentOS was kind enough to "help" this man by using standard networking commands (whois, nslookup, etc.) to find his IP address, hosting provider, etc., which for some reason this official was unable / unwilling to figure out on his own.

Here are a few of the more interesting snippets from the email exchange:

Jerry Taylor to CentOS: "Who gave you permission to invade my website and block me and anyone else from accessing it??? Please remove your software immediately before I report it to government officials!! I am the City Manager of Tuttle, Oklahoma."

CentOS to Jerry Taylor: "I feel sorry for your city. … Please contact someone who does IT for you and show them the page so that they can configure your apache webserver correctly."

Jerry Taylor to CentOS: "Get this web site off my home page!!!!! It is blocking access to my website!!!!~!"

CentoOS to Jerry Taylor: "It is not a website ... it is the operating system. … We didn't DO ANYTHING ... that is what the default apache setup looks like if you are running our operating system (CentOS). So how your configuration file has been replaced by the default one ... that is not something that we can do, it is something that might have been done by the administrator of the machine."

Jerry Taylor to CentOS: "Unless this software is removed I will file a complaint with the FBI."

CentOS to Jerry Taylor: "You obviously do not understand what I am trying to tell you, is there no one on the city council or in your building who understands what an operating system is."

The full email exchange can be found on the CentOS site.

It was also interesting to note that within the past 24 hours, Jerry Taylor corrected several grammatical errors and removed his email address from his online city profile.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

This Week in Open Source News Mar 20 - Mar 26

Red Hat Releases Fedora 5

Red Hat has released Fedora Core 5, which is based on the 2.6.16 version of the Linux kernel and contains new graphics features, enhanced virtualization, and additional desktop utilities. Red Hat even included three Mono-based applications (Mono is a project driven by Miguel de Icaza out of Novell).

Finland's Ministry of Defence Selects Novell

Finland's Ministry of Defence has selected Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for their process management, documentation applications, Intranet portal, and other services. "Our key operational and decision-making processes rely on our ability to access our IT systems 24 by 7, securely and with no glitches. Because of this, we decided to adopt Novell SUSE Linux as the platform for our core applications, messaging and intranet services," said Antti Nummiranta, an IT designer for the Ministry of Defence. This is not earth shattering news, but like to highlight and recognize areas where Linux and open source software are being adopted.

Other Novell News

Novell's annual user conference, BrainShare, was held this week and drove a number of Novell product announcements including long-term plans for Linux, Novell's Market Start program to accelerate open source application adoption, and details about their first Linux Workgroup Suite.

Richard Stallman Talks to Forbes

Forbes interviewed Richard Stallman this week to discuss the GPLv3. Here are a few snippets from the interview:

"Officially, MPAA stands for Motion Picture Association of America, but I suggest that MPAA stands for Malicious Power Attacking All. And RIAA stands for Really Intends to Alienate the Audience."

"I'm glad that the DRM provisions of GPLv3 have promoted the debate about DRM, but their purpose is not simply to send a message. Their main purpose is to protect the freedom of every user of our software. Free software means that you, the user, have four essential freedoms: 0) Freedom to run the software as you wish; 1) Freedom to study the source code and change it to do what you wish; 2) Freedom to make copies and redistribute them, when you wish; and 3) Freedom to distribute modified versions, when you wish." (Forbes)

It is an interesting interview, and I encourage people to read it.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Mozilla Firefox on the Cover of Red Herring

The new issue of Red Herring featuring Firefox in a feature story about the "browser wars" hits the newsstands on March 27. Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker is featured on the cover with the Firefox logo in the background.

"The browser market has seen some of the bloodiest battles in technology. Microsoft’s victory over the once-dominant Netscape branded the pioneer an also-ran and planted Internet Explorer firmly at the top of the browser market. But Microsoft’s lack of IE development caused the program to stagnate under its inattentive parent. As a result, competitors have swarmed in. In recent years, upstart Firefox and its peers have been stealing users from right under Redmond’s nose. With innovative, customizable features, these programs are making browsing and interacting with the web easier. But is Microsoft poised to squash the newbies just like it did Netscape? The software giant is planning to release IE 7—its first update in about five years—later this year. Red Herring takes a closer look at several next-generation browsers and the challenges they face in this week’s feature story, “Browser Wars,” on newsstands Monday." (Red Herring)

This issue also features an article on how big companies and VCs are making investments in open source. I am anxious to pick up a copy on Monday.

read more | digg story

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Open Source Software as a Tool for Cancer Researchers

A team of medical researchers has produced an open source software tool released under the GNU GPL license allowing them to automate the removal of sensitive identification information from medical reports. Removal of certain identifying information is required prior to sharing the data for research purposes. The team chose to release this as an open source tool because there is currently little standardization among reports at different facilities, which requires customization of the software in order for it to be effective. Open source software provides an easy way to allow full customization for other researchers, and this tool will allow researchers to share medical reports more quickly and easily with others.

The tool is written in Java and is operating system independent. For more information, you can refer to the eWeek article, download a detailed report(PDF) on the development and testing of the tool, or visit the project website.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Open Source and Accessibility

According to Wikipedia, "accessibility is a general term used to describe the degree to which a system is usable by as many people as possible without modification. … One meaning of accessibility specifically focuses on people with disabilities and their use of assistive devices such as screen-reading web browsers." Many people, myself included, do not spend much time thinking about accessibility; however, we probably should.

Several recent announcements by governments standardizing on open source software have generated strong reactions from accessibility advocates. The advocates highlight how many open source products are not compatible with screen readers and other devices used by disabled people who rely on them in order to function effectively at work. Many people are concerned that a move to open source software could result in lost jobs for disabled people who rely on additional accessibility technology.

Some open source products strive to meet accessibility requirements; for example, works with the JAWS screen reader. As an example of an accessibility issue, one Linux user in Italy had to find someone to install Linux for him and install the driver for his Braille terminal before he could productively use the Linux operating system. He also struggled with effectively using the Linux documentation, which made ample use of screenshots.

We need to work within the open source community to make sure that more products accommodate accessibility technology. I also encourage people who use these accessibility devices to get involved in open source communities to help increase accessibility of open source software.

This NewsForge article provides many more details and links if you want to learn more about accessibility for open source software.

Mozilla Calendar Feature for Thunderbird Released

An early version of Lightning, the calendar integrated with Mozilla Thunderbird is now available. Keep in mind that this is an early, testing release, and not a final version; therefore, there is a much higher chance of data loss, and several features (like undo/redo) have not yet been implemented. If you have just been dying to try it out, now is your chance; however, use it with caution!

read more | digg story

Sunday, March 19, 2006

This Week in Open Source News Mar 13 - Mar 19

Red Hat's Virtualization Plans

Red Hat announced plans this week to include virtualization capabilities in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, version 5, set to be released later this year. The virtualization capabilities will be based on the open source Xen virtualization engine with a goal of helping enterprise customers get better performance from their servers. Virtualization will provide better workload management, increased server CPU utilization, better server availability, and the ability to run multiple operating systems on the same server simultaneously.

Red Hat has admitted to difficulty in getting the virtualization capabilities added to the main Linux kernel. This means that Red Hat will have to sustain their new virtualization features separately, which will increase the amount of work required to maintain and support this effort. When they are finally incorporated into the main Linux kernel, Red Hat will be able to use the virtualization capabilities within the kernel, rather than having to reincorporate these capabilities for each new Red Hat release.

Red Hat has been increasingly focused on serving enterprise customers, and these improved virtualization capabilities help to support this strategy by providing more features required by enterprise IT.

IBM Becomes an Authorized Supplier of Open Source Solutions to the New South Wales Government

Last week, Novell became an authorized open source supplier to the New South Wales (NSW) government in Australia, and this week a spokesperson for the NSW government confirmed IBM's participation in this effort. They are also believed to be negotiating with Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Red Hat and Sun Microsystems. IBM has been embracing open source software for quite a few years, so it is not surprising to see them continue to be involved in open source government efforts.

The Economist Special Report on Open Source Business

The Economist had a great article this week on Open Source; however, the tagline was a bit misleading, "As 'open-source' models move beyond software into other businesses, their limitations are becoming apparent." This refers to the ability of anyone to contribute to open source software, which can cause disruption to projects that are not effectively self-policed. The reality is that the well-run projects have management structures and close-knit development communities that regulate contributions based on meritocracy. This was described in the article, and the article is well balanced despite the misleading tagline.

This is a great overview article of open source software that does a great job of explaining how open source communities differ along with the strengths and challenges associated with open source. I encourage everyone to read it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Oracle FAQ runs MySQL

While reading Zach Urlocker's blog, I ran across this link to an Oracle FAQ forum that runs MySQL as the database. Here is a quick snippet from the forum:

"I'm ashamed to admit, but most of the site is using MySQL. Now that Oracle XE is available, I hope we could port some sections to Oracle. However, database replacements are never easy. So, don't expect it too soon.Every penny we make goes back into running and developing this site. There is no way we would be able to raise the money required to buy a commercial Oracle license." (OraFAQ Forum)

More and more popular sites are moving to MySQL: Yahoo, Google, Craigslist, Travelocity, etc. This open source database has certainly moved into wide acceptance within mission critical business environments.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Open Source Applications on Windows

Too many people associate open source with Linux and make the assumption that you have to run the Linux operating system if you want to run open source software. The popularity of Firefox is starting to change that perception, and here is a simple list of other open source software that people can run on Windows. Most of these are obvious to those of us who have been using open source; however, it is an excellent resource for people who are new to open source and are ready to move beyond Firefox.

read more | digg story

Firefox Memory Leak Resource

I previously mentioned that my only issue with Firefox relates to excessive memory usage. I love Firefox, and I have been willing to put up with the occasional memory leak.

However, here is a great resource that provides details about the Firefox memory leaks along with some solutions and workarounds.

For example, one of my favorite extensions, Forecastfox, which displays a mini weather report in my toolbar, is a "known leaky extension" that may be the source of some of my problems. A number of tweaks are also available that allow you customize how Firefox uses memory. I encourage anyone experiencing memory issues to read this thread.

read more | digg story

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bill Gates Mocks MIT's $100 laptop project

The One Laptop per Child initiative launched by MIT plans to provide laptops to children in developing countries in partnership with governments and other organizations at a cost of $100 per laptop. These laptops run Red Hat's Fedora Linux distribution and are currently in the development stage.

This week Bill Gates had the following comments about this initiative:

"The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen."

"If you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type," (Reuters).

I have a number of issues with these comments. First, these systems were never intended to be shared computers; the goal is to provide each child with a computer. Second, the target markets for these computers are developing nations and other areas where computer usage is not widespread. In general, areas like rural Africa and other locations cannot be expected to have broadband connections to every village (I have not even been able to get broadband for my parents who live in rural Ohio).

I am really just not sure what Gates was thinking when he made these comments. This is an ambitious project designed to get computers into the hands of children who otherwise would not have access to this technology. This effort should be applauded, not ridiculed.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Texas Hospital Embraces Open Source

Midland Memorial Hospital is implementing an electronic health record system from Medsphere based on open source software. The healthcare industry has historically been very careful about IT decisions and unwilling to take many risks. The use of open source software within the healthcare industry provides some evidence that open source is moving out of the early adopter fringes and into the mainstream IT market. I suspect that we will begin seeing more and more adoption of open source software within the healthcare industry over the next few years, and Medsphere will be a company to watch.

read more | digg story

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ubuntu Password Bug Fixed in a Few Hours

A critical bug exposing the root (administrator) password on Ubuntu systems was found and then fixed within a few hours. Open source communities tend to respond more quickly than proprietary companies; however, this response was truly amazing. The quick response shows how open source communities can take action to fix issues and support their users.

read more | digg story

This Week in Open Source News Mar 6 - Mar 12

Mozilla Confirms Making Millions of Dollars from Firefox

Earlier this week, I blogged about this story, and now Mozilla has officially confirmed that they have made millions of dollars from Firefox. The $72 million figure reported on Digg was not correct, but it was not off by much. As I mentioned earlier this week, being able to generate this kind of revenue will help Mozilla increase the resources available to make Firefox even more popular.

Novell Unveils More on Upcoming Linux Desktop and Appoints New Linux Executive

The new Linux desktop is designed for general office workers and has an animated user interface, desktop search, support for Excel macros and pivot tables in, and better plug and play support for devices.

"We have made a big investment taking the Linux desktop past everybody. The usability work we've done is not to reinvent Windows, but to reinvent a better desktop," Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, Novell's director of marketing for Linux and open source, told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

"When Microsoft Vista ships it will catch up to us in a number of areas, but we'll enjoy six months where Novell's Linux desktop is in the lead," he said (CNet).

The innovative approach that Novell has used with this new Linux desktop is what makes it so interesting. Too many people think of Linux as a Microsoft clone or technology follower; however, in this case, Novell is innovating ahead of Microsoft in a manner similar to how Firefox has innovated ahead of Internet Explorer.

In other news, Novell hired Roger Levy, previously from Lucent, to replace David Patrick as the general manager of the Open Platform Solutions business unit.

IBM Uses Linux and Windows on the Desktop

Earlier this week, there were rumors that IBM was moving all of their employees to Linux on the desktop and was not planning to renew their contract with Microsoft. While IBM is moving some users to Linux desktops, they are not planning to get rid of Microsoft Windows. Software developers and designers who need to use Linux as part of their jobs will be moving to Linux; however, the general population of IBM will not be switching to Linux on the desktop.

Australia Interested in Open Source Software

The New South Wales Department of Commerce signed an agreement this week with Novell that will provide government agencies with access to Linux and open source solutions. Security, cost, scalability, and access to open solutions were all factors in the decision to allow government departments to use Linux and open source. This is just one more example of how governments are considering open source, not just for cost reasons, but because it offers more choices, security, and other benefits.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Linus Torvalds Talks to Forbes about GPLv3

In this interview with Forbes on March 9, 2006, Linus describes his current issues with the latest version of the GPL; however, the GPLv3 is still a draft, and Linus is not making any firm judgments until the final version is released. Here are a few snippets from the interview:

Forbes: Where do you stand on the GPLv3?

Torvalds: Well, the thing is, there currently is no final GPLv3, there's just a first draft. That first draft is unacceptable to me, but that doesn't mean we can't come to some agreement. …

So you are leaving the door open?

Hey, I'm flexible. Some people call it being indecisive, but personally, I think it's a sign of intelligence when a person is able to change his mind when circumstances change. …

What changes would have to be made for you to adopt GPLv3?

Just to explain the fundamental issue: To me, the GPL really boils down to "I give out code, I want you to do the same." The thing that makes me not want to use the GPLv3 in its current form is that it really tries to move more toward the "software freedom" goals. For example, the GPLv2 in no way limits your use of the software.

This is where the GPLv3 diverges. It limits how you can use the software. … And that's my gripe. From where I'm standing, [the GPLv3] says that you suddenly can't use the software in certain "evil ways" (where evil is defined by the FSF--it doesn't actually cover the James Bond kind of evil, but if you can see Richard Stallman as a less dashing James Bond, it would be that kind of evil) (Forbes).

I encourage people to read this interview. Linus has quite a bit of insight, and he delivers it in an engaging and humorous manner. If the GPLv3 is not your cup of tea, Forbes also interviewed Linus to get his views on Tivo.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Open Source at NASA

It does not surprise me that an organization like NASA would embrace open source, but I appreciate the reasons that they cite for using open source:

"The motivations for NASA to distribute software codes Open Source are:
  • to increase NASA software quality via community peer review
  • to accelerate software development via community contributions
  • to maximize the awareness and impact of NASA research
  • to increase dissemination of NASA software in support of NASA's education mission" (NASA)
NASA is embracing the community elements of open source: peer review, contributions, and open sharing of information.

read more | digg story

Open Source User Customization of Gadgets

While reading a recent InfoWorld column by Neil McAllister, I was reminded of another innovative use of open source software. Open source software can be developed to provide additional customization and support of hardware devices. In Democratizing Innovation by Eric von Hippel, he described user developed innovation that is shared with other community members (I highly recommend this for book for anyone interested in innovation or open source.)

In the case of consumer devices, we are typically limited to using the device only in way that the manufacturer wants it to be used; however, some very creative individual can often rewrite the firmware. This is easier if the manufacturer has provided the source code to the original firmware, but the entire firmware can also be re-written from scratch. This allows us to do things like reconfigure the user interface for an MP3 player or add additional features to your router and share these new modifications with other interested users.

Desktop Linux and Fragmentation

In this blog, I have spent quite a bit of time (here and here) talking about the Linux desktop chicken and the egg problem: there are not enough people 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.

In an interview with Michael Dell, he brings up another excellent point specific to OEM sales of Linux on the desktop. Right now, the Linux desktop market is highly fragmented with literally hundreds of distributions that could be selected for installation on a new PC. If Dell or any other OEM picks just a couple to install (Red Hat & Novell), people who wanted a different distribution (Mandriva or Ubuntu) will choose not to buy one of Dell's Linux desktops. If they let users choose any one of the many Linux desktops, the OEM can end up with a support nightmare trying to provide user support for too many Linux desktop configurations.

In most fragmented markets, as the market matures, several winners tend to emerge to narrow the list of popular choices. Until a few winners emerge, we should expect to see resistance from OEMs like Dell; however, if a few winners do emerge, it will become much easier for OEMs to support Linux on the desktop.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Update to "Did Mozilla Make $72 Million from Firefox?"

According to Christopher Blizzard (Mozilla Corporation board member), the $72 million figure is "not correct, though not off by an order of magnitude." I see this as a great step forward for Firefox. They have been able to drive significant revenue from an open source product, which will allow them to provide increased resources to further accelerate the growth of Firefox through hired staff, improved infrastructure, marketing programs, etc. Way to go!

read more | digg story

Security and Bugs in Open Source Software

Those of you concerned about using open source software because it may contain too many bugs can now rest a little more easily. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security funded Stanford University, Coverity and Symantec to complete an analysis describing the number of security bugs found in open source software. The LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python) was found to have fewer bugs than other open source software.

As open source products, like the LAMP stack, stand the test of time, they resolve many of the existing issues and become adept at fixing new problems. This is a testament to the maturity of these products and shows that stable, mature open source software can achieve high standards of quality.

It would be really interesting to see this as a comparison of bugs between open source code and proprietary code; however, most proprietary companies will not open up their code to this type of analysis.

read more | digg story

Monday, March 06, 2006

Did Mozilla Make $72 Million from Firefox?

This story appeared on the front page of Digg today; however, a couple of bloggers are the only source of this information. If it is true, it points to the tremendous success of the Spread Firefox campaign.

My challenge to you:
Please post a comment on this blog if you have any proof that this is true (preferably from a Mozilla source).

read more | digg story

Sunday, March 05, 2006

This Week in Open Source News Feb 27 - Mar 5

Open Source ID Management Solution

IBM and Novell along with Parity Communications and Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society are leading an effort called the Higgins Project to create an open source identity management solution that will compete with the recently announced InfoCard technology from Microsoft. It will allow users to control the personal information shared with sites using this technology. The Eclipse Foundation will coordinate this effort, which will support Windows, Linux, and other operating systems. This has a good chance of succeeding for a couple of reasons. First, Novell and IBM tend to have more credibility than Microsoft for security solutions. Second, by making this technology open source, I would expect more companies to participate in the project in a manner similar to the way that other Eclipse projects have been able to get participation from many key players within the industry.

British Agency Supports Linux Usage

Starting last year, the Open Source Academy (OSA) replaced software on 300 PCs in British libraries with open source solutions made up of Linux, OpenOffice, Firefox and Gimp as a learning experiment and found that the solution was stable, secure, and positive for users of the systems. The OSA, funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, was designed to promote open source adoption in local governments, and other OSA projects involve providing guidance on recycling old PCs, running a testing lab for open source solutions, and additional open source government outreach efforts. This is only one example of a successful government effort to promote open source software. I highlight this not because 300 PCs make up a significant deployment, but because it provides an example to illustrate how open source desktop solutions can be effective and to show how governments can drive open source efforts.

Firefox Announces Extension Winners

The winners of the extend Firefox competition were announced this week. The best new overall extension, Reveal by Michael Wu, provides a way to see thumbnails of session history pages along with a magnifying glass to help you find previously viewed pages quickly and easily. The other grand prize winners included: Best Upgraded Extension, Web Developer by Chris Pederick, and Best Use of New Firefox 1.5 Features, Firefox Showcase by Josep del Rio. For more best in class winners and more details visit Spread Firefox. This is a great example of open source user innovation at work!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Bloggers and Accuracy

In today's fast paced world of constant information, bloggers can provide a great service by exposing news stories and disseminating information that has not yet been picked up by the mainstream media. People witnessing an event or talking to someone with unique insight can immediately blog about it to quickly provide this information to readers around the world.

However, as consumers of this content, we need to be wary of the source. This recent article on Digg reminded me of the accuracy issues that can occur in the blogosphere and with other user created content. The headline reads, "Open Source Not Ready For Academic Prime Time, Study Reveals", and it links to a blog, which provides more "details" about the study. As an open source expert and someone who likes to dig into the story behind the story, I decided to read more about this study, since it did not fit with my experiences in the industry.

The study was published by the Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness (A-HEC), and they have already posted several clarifications on their website. Here are the first 2 of 8 points that were clarified:

"There have been several erroneous blogs on the Internet that were created by folks that have not read this study nor understand its focus. Here are a few clarifications:

1. The study is only about higher education use of open source. It does not apply to schools or K-12.

2. The study is not negative on open source. Use of open source infrastructure (Linux, Apache, MySQL) is proceeding quite nicely in higher ed as in the commercial space. The study quantifies that progress. The also study points out that Higher Ed specific open source applications (course management systems, portals, student portfolios) have enormous interest right now. However, the average institution seems to be a long way from adopting these. The study details exactly where we are and why. This information is helpful in addressing these issues." (A-HEC).

As an active blogger, I believe that blogging is a great way to quickly disseminate information without relying on the mainstream media to report on it; however, the consumer should consider the source of the information carefully and maybe do some additional research before drawing too many conclusions.

Firefox Reaches 150 Million Downloads

I like to celebrate the open source success stories. In earlier blogs, I have talked about how cool it is for a community of people to gain this kind of market traction in a very short amount of time. For anyone who has not yet downloaded Firefox, I strongly encourage you to try it (Firefox works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and other operating systems!)

read more | digg story