Richard Hillesley has written about the fate of various Sun open source projects since that firm's acquisition by Oracle. He noticeably quotes Oracle CEO Larry Ellison as having said "If an open source product gets good enough, we'll simply take it."
Open Source Archive
The fork of OpenOffice called LibreOffice is going to have its first official release soon. This version is primarily a code cleanup, and so it will not be much different to OpenOffice 3.3, which is also about to be released soon. For the subsequent release of LibrOffice, however, there are proposals starting to emerge which are quite interesting. Tech Drive-in reports on a mock-up of a proposed overhaul of the LibreOffice UI.
The Free Software Foundation announced today that it will be supporting the WebM project. As Brett Smith, license compliance engineer for the FSF, said in a press release: "Google has been working to bring together a broad coalition of organizations to support WebM, which will go far to help it become the video codec of choice with HTML5. e want the world to know that we also support WebM: with its developer-friendly patent license and free software reference implementation, it's a good choice to help ensure the Web fulfills its promise of providing a free way for the world to communicate."
"Steve Chang, the Chairman of Trend Micro, has kicked up a controversy by claiming that open source software is inherently less secure. When talking about the security of smartphones, Chang claimed that the iPhone is more secure than Android because being an open-source platform, attackers know more about the underlying architecture."
Some people swore to me that just because the free-software General Public License (GPL) clashes with the Apple App Store's Terms of Service (ToS), didn't mean that Apple would actually pull down GPLed apps. Well, Apple just did. Remi Denis-Courmont, a Linux developer of the popular VLC media player, has just announced that Apple had pulled the popular GPLed VLC media player from its App Store.
Now this is interesting. We see what is at its core a very valid concern, in practice not a problem to anyone, and, thanks to the tone of the press release, close to trolling. The Free Software Foundation Latin America is complaining about something that has been known for a while - there is some non-Free code stuck in the Linux kernel (mostly firmware). A valid issue of concern from an idealogical viewpoint, but sadly, the tone of the press release turns this valid concern into something close to trolling.
InfoWorld's Serdar Yegulalp looks beyond OpenOffice.org to list 10 great free and open source desktop tools for word processing, page layout, graphics editing, illustration, task management, and more. Some of the featured tools provide a worthwhile alternative to expensive proprietary software, while others carve a niche all their own. All are available for Windows, and nearly all are available for Linux and Mac OS X as well. From AbiWord, to Inkscape, to Task Coach, each of the tools provides further proof that the roster of available free programs is growing remarkably -- in both the breadth and depth of functionality offered.
"So what is the state of the Hurd? Is it vaporware, like Duke Nukem Forever? Fortunately not: the code exists, there is still work going on (for instance as part of Google Summer of Code), and there are even some relatively functional Hurd distributions. Let's look first at the code and the current architecture, and then at the Hurd distributions."
InfoWorld's Neil McAllister offers 20 questions to test your knowledge of the open source and free software movements. Which was the first commercial Linux distribution? How many separate clauses make up the typical BSD-style open source license? What is the difference between the GPL and the LGPL?
The InfoWorld Test Center rounds up of the past year in open source, highlighting the best open source offerings in several software categories: "The word 'best' here can mean many things. It is sometimes equivalent to 'most promising', 'most surprising', 'most subversive', 'most unnerving', 'most opportune', 'most happening', or some weird, inchoate mixture of them all. The one thing it always means is 'most useful' - to developers, IT administrators, and users on a business network." From enterprise apps, to app dev tools, to platforms and middleware, to networking software, the list is expansive, including 39 hybrid license and community offerings.
Free Software Magazine published an interesting lexicon of terms that are thrown around within the Free Software and Creative Commons worlds that have particular meaning, and might not be familiar to people who aren't open source or free culture advocates.
We are heading towards a world where we no longer own the hardware we buy -- and there is no point in having free software if you can't own your hardware.
Richard Stallman, who's still taking on the role of the extremist who says extreme things so other Free Software advocates can look moderate in comparison, answers Reddit readers' questions. But there's some good stuff in there, and it seems he's dialed back the nutty a bit.
The HURD was meant to be the true kernel at the heart of the GNU operating system. The promise behind the HURD was revolutionary -- a set of daemons on top of a microkernel that was intended to surpass the performance of the monolithic kernels of traditional Unix systems and in doing so, give greater security, freedom and flexibility to the users -- but it has yet to come down to earth.
InfoWorld's Peter Wayner discusses the difficulties of transforming an open source project into a profitable endeavor, offering 8 business models for balancing openness with revenue. 'The debate over permissiveness is woven throughout the discussions of open source business models. Some companies stay small on purpose, while others argue that there's nothing wrong with proprietary options if they encourage all users to share the costs of development,' Wayner writes. 'The challenge for businesses is to find viable mechanisms for aligning the interests of the users and the programmers -- a complex task of social engineering.' From selling support, to selling documentaiton, to selling FUD, each business model offers a unique opportunity to strike a balance between purity and profit.
Last April I was on a Microsoft interoperability and Open Source conference in Ecuador (South America). On this conference Microsoft spread the word that they support Open Source Software and they do have an OSS strategy. But by checking their OSS Strategy I just felt something sour in my mouth, so I wrote this article to explain it.
"The Free Software Foundation is up in arms over Apple's iTunes Store Terms of Service, suggesting that these terms fundamentally conflict with the terms of the GNU Public License. The foundation has warned Apple that a version of GNU Go distributed by the App Store makes Apple liable to comply with GPL terms that allow free sharing of code, but warned that its 'Usage Rules' violate those terms. The fallout could potentially affect any app that uses GPLed code."
InfoWorld's Neil McAllister takes on the old saw that open source doesn't innovate, highlighting seven innovative new ideas in software that you may be able to buy from proprietary vendors some day, but that you can only get for free from the open source community today. "Proprietary software vendors would have you believe that the open source movement has produced nothing but knockoffs of existing products and cast-off code that couldn't cut it in the free market," McAllister writes, "The open source movement remains a font of innovation to this day, and not just in the commercial sector. Numerous projects founded by universities, loosely knit communities, and individuals are exploring areas yet to be taken on by mainstream, proprietary software products."
The Free Software Foundation has released a medium length film which discusses the harms and the origins of software patents in the USA, using the ongoing Bilski case as a backdrop. There are interviews with Dan Bricklin, Timothy B. Lee, Eben Moglen, Richard Stallman, Dan Ravicher, and others. Now this is what the FSF ought to focus on. Great stuff. It explains how software patents came to be: a massive fail by the US justice system.
It's a simple equation. Results = Developers x Time; and for Songbird, it's not working out. Yesterday, they announced they will drop Linux support in favour of Windows, Mac and to meet plans to include video features in the next release. The comments are intensely angry, as you can imagine. An untested Linux version will be kept around "for use by our Songbird engineers who develop on the Linux platform".