- AllSeen's Open Source Internet of Things: One Year On Dec 17, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Good progress, but more needed on security.
Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about one of the Linux Foundation's Collaborative Projects, with the rather disconcerting name of AllSeen. I found that problematic, since the AllSeen Alliance hopes to create the de facto standards for the much-hyped Internet of Things. One of the my chief concerns with this idea is that it could make today's surveillance look positively restrained - imagine if spy agencies and general ne'er-do-wells had access to detailed knowledge about and perhaps even control over individual components of your "intelligent" home.
That issue notwithstanding, the AllSeen Alliance has just celebrated its first year, grown to include 100 members - but still not changed its name:
- GDS' limits Dec 12, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - However open source code and reusable platforms mean GDS assets are available to all.
Liam Maxwell has said that the Government Digital Service (GDS) does not have the power to direct local government, despite numerous recent calls for the unit’s remit to be expanded to help councils with their digital initiatives.
Maxwell, the government’s chief technology officer (CTO), said at the launch of the D5 digital nations in London this week: “The 440 local councils - and I come from a local council background myself - they are their own entities, they are their own organisations, they are elected by their residents and are responsible to their residents. We [GDS] do central government.”
- GDS' limits Dec 12, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - However open source code and reusable platforms mean GDS assets are available to all.
Liam Maxwell has said that the Government Digital Service (GDS) does not have the power to direct local government, despite numerous recent calls for the unit’s remit to be expanded to help councils with their digital initiatives.
Maxwell, the government’s chief technology officer (CTO), said at the launch of the D5 digital nations in London this week: “The 440 local councils - and I come from a local council background myself - they are their own entities, they are their own organisations, they are elected by their residents and are responsible to their residents. We [GDS] do central government.”
- Licence fine forces town to drop move to alternative office tools Nov 25, 2014
Joinup - The Dutch city of Arnhem has, for now, given up searching for alternatives for its office productivity tools, after settling a claim with a dominant software vendor for unlicensed use of its office software. To compensate for not having adequately licensed the software used by the town’s civil servant’s who were working from home, Arnhem has paid 600,000 euro for new licences. These allow the use of the ubiquitous proprietary office software for the next three years, says the city’s CIO, Simon Does.
“It makes no sense not to use these licences, so we’ve stopped looking for alternatives”, the CIO told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR). Possible alternatives would have been LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice, two closely related open source office suites.
- Microsoft must finish the job of opening .Net Nov 18, 2014
InfoWorld - As you will have read elsewhere, Microsoft has announced that much of .Net will become open source, hosted at the .Net Foundation. It has also announced it will support both Linux and Mac OS X. Since it is using the old and minimalist MIT license (which has no patent terms included), there is also a patent pledge. In addition, the company is introducing full-featured no-cost versions of its developer tools, though they remain proprietary; the Visual Studio Community license won’t even allow it to be used for enterprise application development.
- Ordnance Survey accused of stifling competition in open data row Nov 18, 2014
Computer Weekly - UK mapping agency Ordnance Survey stands accused of using £800m of government contracts to stifle competition in a row over the release of geographical information as open data.
Geo-data firm Getmapping claimed Ordnance Survey received illegal state aid in a complaint it lodged at the European Commission (EC) last Friday (7 November 2014). The company repeated similar allegations to those it has tried and failed to stand up with UK authorities a number of times since Ordnance Survey was turned into a quasi-public government corporation in 1999.
- UK Ministry of Defence opens up to FOSS, a bit Nov 13, 2014
Computer Weekly - The UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) is opening up, technologically speaking.
Earlier this year Computer Weekly reported news of the MoD's £2m in sponsorship for a competition to find innovative ways of automating cyber defences.
Continuing this 'openness to community contributions' policy, Her Majesty's Government's defence policy department is placing the code for a web application called Ideaworks on GitHub via its Defence Science and Technology Laboratory section.
Ideaworks is a free and open source web application that allows a group of people to collate, comment on and rate ideas.
It was initially designed and built by the UK Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (dstl) and released under AGPL as a prototype tool.
- MoD releases code to GitHub: Our Ideaworks... sort of Nov 13, 2014
The Register - The Ministry of Defence is to consider making some of its more "sophisticated" software available online, having for the first time publicly released code onto open-source site Github.com.
The web application "Ideaworks" was developed by the MoD'S Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) for work collaboration.
A spokeswoman told El Reg: "Now that we better understand how the release process addresses legal, privacy and security issues, Dstl could be in a position to release more sophisticated software onto the internet in the future."
The software was chosen because of its simplicity. Dstl states on Github: "We don’t pretend that the code is the best ever written."
The spokeswoman said: "We wanted to understand what was required to release software under an OSS licence from inside MOD - as other government departments are already doing."
Andy Bell, chief technical officer at Dstl, said the intention is to benefit both the MoD and the public.
- IT buyers must demand open standards as balance of power shifts in their favour Nov 04, 2014
Computer Weekly - The old cliché about open standards has never been truer - that the great thing about them is there are so many to choose from.
Look at the Wikipedia page on the topic, for example. It lists 20 different definitions of what an open standard is, and at least 30 different specifications all of which claim to be a definitive open standard in their field.
Lack of standards leads only to single supplier dominance - the effective standard for PCs for 25 years has been Windows, and for all the benefits that has delivered, it still leaves many organisations locked into Microsoft.
The same is happening in the cloud today - Amazon Web Services has become the dominant player by building an ecosystem based on its technology and APIs. Azure and Google are playing catch-up - but with no interoperability between clouds. More than ever, users are demanding cloud standards to prevent a repeat of the past.
- Why Microsoft loves Linux Oct 30, 2014
ZDNet - Some things don't go together: Cats and dogs, New York Yankee and Boston Red Sox fans, Linux and Windows... or do they? In San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, and I quote, "Microsoft loves Linux."
That's a heck of a long way from Steve Ballmer proclaiming back in 2001 that "Linux is a cancer." In the years since then Microsoft certainly attacked Linux like it was a cancer — doing everything from sponsoring SCO's copyright attack on Linux to claiming that Linux violated unnamed Microsoft patents to endless FUD assaults.
So, how did we get from Linux as Microsoft enemy number one to "love"?
Nadella actually told us the heart of the story, which I can boil down to that classic detective approach: "Follow the money."
- Free Software is Europe’s second chance Oct 22, 2014
Moved by Freedom - Powered by Standards - I have watched with some interest the latest consultation organized by the European Commission about funding priorities for research, software and cloud initiatives. The Digital Agenda for Europe has been a hot topic for a just a few years now and such a set of policies will create some real opportunities in Europe. Of course, the devil lies in the details, but it dawned on me that in all the years I worked on digital policies at the European level, I had never really expressed why I think that Free Software is a strategic opportunity for Europe.
- Munich sheds light on the cost of dropping Linux and returning to Windows Oct 17, 2014
ZDNet - The mayor of Munich has revealed the cost of reversing its move to Linux from Windows will run into millions of euros in hardware alone.
Earlier this year the newly elected mayors of Munich raised the possibility the city could return to Windows, despite the authority having spent years switching to a Linux-based OS and free software.
Munich's adoption of open source software continues to generate debate, as one of best known examples of a large organisation swapping Microsoft for Linux on the desktop. Since Munich began its migration in 2004, a number of German authorities have followed a similar path.
- An Open Source Project for Drones (now how cool is that?) Oct 16, 2014
The Standards Blog - Andy Updegrove - It was only two weeks ago that I wrote here about the launch of a new Linux Foundation consortium, called the Open Platform for NFV Project. That's an extremely important development on the telecommunications front, with a mission "to develop and maintain a carrier-grade, integrated, open source reference platform for the telecom industry." But if you're not of the technical persuasion, where does that rate on the register of cool? Well, maybe not so high.
Today's announcement, on the other hand, should be enough to catch the eye of anyone. This time, the effort being launched is called the Dronecode Project, and the code it supports controls a much hotter platfrom than a telecom backbone: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more popularly known simply as "drones." So just how cool is that? (Disclosure: my firm and I represent the Linux Foundation and the Drone Project).
- Where new European Commission leaders stand on open source Oct 15, 2014
OpenSource.com - At this writing, the European Parliament is wrapping up committee hearings and votes to approve or reject the proposed slate of new European Commissioners and Vice Presidents put forward in September by European Commission (EC) President-elect Jean Claude Juncker. These men and women (one from each of the 28 countries in the European Union), if approved by the Parliament, will lead and manage the activities of the Directorates General (DGs), which function as the EC's departments or ministries.
What do we know about the proposed leaders who will direct the EC's information and communication technology (ICT) policy? And what familiarity do they have with—and how may they approach—issues concerning open source software and open standards?
- It's not just Munich: Open source gains new ground in Germany Oct 13, 2014
TechRepublic - While Munich city council's decision to replace Microsoft software with open-source alternatives made headlines, it is one of a number of municipalities across Germany to make such a move.
Across Germany at the national and local level authorities are running Linux and open-source software. The German federal employment office has migrated 13,000 public workstations from Windows NT to OpenSuse, and a number of German ubran areas are using or in the process of switching to open-source software on the desktop, including Isernhagen, Leipzig, Schwäbisch Hall and Treuchtlingen.
The latest town to make the switch is Gummersbach, with a population of about 50,000 in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which this summer completed its switch to Linux PCs from Windows XP.
- LibreOffice's superlow defect rate puts proprietary software to shame Oct 02, 2014
InfoWorld - LibreOffice code is among the cleanest you'll find, with one-tenth the defect density of the average proprietary code base for similar-scale apps.
For old-timers, the venerable OpenOffice.org codebase comes with a folk-memory of instability and resource greed. But the LibreOffice project -- founded four years ago this weekend -- hold good news for those who prefer their office suite to be open source.According to code improvement vendor Coverity, the LibreOffice code maintained by the Document Foundation has one of the lowest defect densities in the software industry following intensive analysis and fixing by its community.
- LibreOffice Celebrates - and Does Something Unusual Sep 29, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - When LibreOffice forked from the original OpenOffice project, many people were sceptical. The fear was that by splitting the forces working on free software office suites, both would be weakened, and fail. I've always been a great believer in giving people a choice, and think that this is a real strength of open source: it ensures that software really meets users' needs. If it doesn't, sooner or later someone will fork the code and start a new project that aims to do better.
And so here we are, four years later, with LibreOffice still going strong. Italo Vignoli of the The Document Foundation, which is the organisation behind LibreOffice, has provided some figures charting how far the project has come in that time:
On September 28, 2014, The Document Foundation - and LibreOffice - will turn four. In figures, this means eight major releases, close to 100 million downloads, over 800 new developers, a large number of active volunteers in every corner of the planet, and millions of desktops "migrating" from proprietary to free office suites.
- Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug as world races to patch hole Sep 26, 2014
The Register - Sysadmins and users are urged to patch the severe Shellshock vulnerability in Bash on Linux and Unix systems – as hackers ruthlessly exploit the flaw to compromise or crash computers.
But as "millions" of servers, PCs and devices lay vulnerable or are being updated, it's emerged the fix is incomplete.
The flaw affects the GNU Bourne Again Shell – better known as Bash – which is a widely installed command interpreter used by many Linux and Unix operating systems – including Apple's OS X.
- EC Commissioner Kroes supports ODF campaign Sep 18, 2014
Joinup - European Commissioner and Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes supports the FixMyDocuments campaign that is urging Europe's public administrations to make better use of open document formats. The campaigners aim to get public administrations to publish their documents in open formats that can be read and manipulated by anyone, without imposing the use of software from any particular vendor. The campaigners are pushing the authorities to use the Open Document Format (ODF).
The campaign started on Monday.
In her statement of support for the campaign, European Commission Vice-President Kroes says: "When open alternatives are available, no citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to use a particular company's technology to access government information. No citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to choose a closed technology over an open one, through a government having made that choice first. I know a smart business decision when I see one – choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed."
The FixMyDocuments campaign site allows anyone to "report web pages that fail to make editable documents that are intended for collaboration available or accept submissions in ODF, when such documents are coming from or received by administrations that have committed to do so." Campaigners include the Free Software Foundation Europe, France's free software advocacy group April and OpenForum Europe, an organisation advocating the use of open standards in ICT. In a press release, OFE explains the campaigners will contact public administrations, and check and track progress on the administrations' compliance.
- FixMyDocument and Global Legislative Openness Sep 16, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Back in July, I wrote about the huge win for open standards when the UK government announced that it would be adopting ODF for sharing or collaborating on government documents. I also implored the open community to support this initiative in every way it could to ensure that it took root and maybe even spread. So I'm delighted to see that Open Forum Europe has done just that with a new site called FixMyDocument.eu. (Although I am a "fellow" of the associated Open Forum Academy, I had nothing to do with this.) Here's how it explains the initiative:
A number of public administrations throughout Europe have decided to support the Open Document format (ODF) when communicating with the public. FixMyDocuments.eu is a campaign to help them implement their decision effectively.
On this platform, you can :
Show your support for the campaign by signing the statement on open document formats.
Report web pages which fail to make documents available or accept submissions in ODF.
Consult the central listing of reported web pages.
Learn more about this campaign.
Apparently the name was inspired by mySociety's FixMyStreet site where members of the public can report problems with graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs, or street lighting that they come across in the UK - a great use of crowdsourced knowledge. Applying the same technique to problems with documents that people encounter is an inspired idea, and I urge people to contribute if they can.
- OpenForum Europe Challenges Governments to Walk the Open Format Walk Sep 16, 2014
The Standards Blog - Andy Updegrove - OpenForum Europe, an advocacy group focusing on IT openness in government, issued a press release earlier today announcing its launch of a new public Internet portal. At that site, anyone can report a government page that offers a document intended for collaborative use for downloading if that document is not available in an OpenDocument Format (ODF) compliant version. The portal is called FixMyDocuments.eu, and you can show your support for the initiative (as I have) by adding your name here (the first supporter listed is the EU's indominatable digital champion, Neelie Kroes).
The announcement coincides with the beginning of another initiative, Global Legislative Openness Week, which will involve global activities annd "events hosted by the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership and members of the parliamentary openness community." A full calendar of events is here.
Both activities follow close on the heels of the late July announcement by the UK Cabinet Office that ODF compliance will henceforth be required for all collaborative documents. However, government agencies in the UK (along with their counterparts in Brussels) have too often failed in the past to follow such openness dictates.
- After the Fork: Financing Open Source Software Sep 15, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - One of the key moments in the history of free software was the rise of companies based around open source. After the first wave of startups based around offering distros and support for them - Red Hat being perhaps the most famous and successful example - there followed a second wave of companies offering open source versions of key enterprise software, many of them described in the early posts of this blog.
But things have moved on. Nowadays, open source is fast becoming the standard for business software, apart from a few old dinosaurs moaning about the meteorites. However, with that maturing of the marketplace, it is inevitable that some early open-source companies have changed. For example, a post from SugarCRM earlier this year entitled "SugarCRM in the Next 10 Years" revealed that the open source version would be available, and supported until 2015, but no longer actively developed:
- LibreOffice cash-for-code strategy tests open source ethic Sep 15, 2014
InfoWorld - In an unusual, controversial move, the Document Foundation is taking bids for paid development of LibreOffice for Android.
The Document Foundation's tender for the development of an Android implementation of LibreOffice begs serious questions, namely: Can an influx of cash into open source code creation succeed, and how do pay-for-code plays from nonprofit foundations affect the ethics and work ethic of today's open source community?
For those who haven't heard, the German nonprofit behind the successful open source LibreOffice productivity suite issued a tender document last week at the LibreOffice Conference seeking a bid for the one-off task of extending the LibreOffice document viewer prototype into a basic document editor on Android. It covers all the core program modules: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, and Math.
- City of Turin decides to ditch Windows XP for Ubuntu and €6m saving Sep 11, 2014
ZDNet - €6m: the amount the municipality of Turin hopes to save over five years by switching from Windows XP to Ubuntu Linux in all of its offices.
The move will mean installing the open source operating system on 8,300 PCs, which will generate an immediate saving of roughly €300 per machine (almost €2.5m altogether, made up from the cost of Windows and Office licences) — a sum that will grow over the years as the need for the renewal of proprietary software licences vanishes, and the employees get used to the new machines.
Or rather, to the old ones. Another reason for the switch was that the computers Turin uses are quite old, and installing Windows 8 would have probably been too demanding for them, whereas Linux offers more flexibility with more mature machines. And, as the support for Windows XP officially ended this year, sticking with Microsoft didn't make much sense to Turin. The switch to Ubuntu was officially approved in early August and is expected to take around a year and a half to complete.
- NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine Sep 10, 2014
The Register - The NHS has ripped the Oracle backbone from a national patient database system and inserted NoSQL running on an open-source stack.
Spine2 has gone live following successful redevelopment including redeployment on new, x86 hardware. The project to replace Spine1 had been running for three years with Spine2 now undergoing a 45-day monitoring period.
Spine is the NHS’s main secure patient database and messaging platform, spanning a vast estate of blades and SANs.
It logs the non-clinical information on 80 million people in Britain – holding data on everything from prescriptions and payments to allergies.
Spine is also a messaging hub, serving electronic communications between 20,000 applications that include the Electronic Prescription Service and Summary Care Record. It processes more than 500 complex messages a second.
Spine1 had run on Oracle under an out-sourced contract managed by telecoms giant BT.
- Can this free software company secure the future of Linux for the city of Munich? Sep 04, 2014
OpenSource.com - There are many solved problems in open source. Groupware is not one of them.
How else would you explain the number of migrations that fail on average in groupware? The Swiss canton of Solothurn is just one example among many as a result of groupware vendors who have given up and transitioned to Outlook or the web to meet their needs. Kolab does things differently. For one, Outlook will never be the client for the Linux desktop. And, the web is a good answer for a lot of things, but not all.
The city of Munich is another good case to look at; they successfully completed a Linux migration that has saved them millions of Euros. But now, the newly elected mayor and his deputy have made the news by publicly considering a migration back to Windows. To explore this further, let's first ignore for a moment that the City Council would need to approve any change in strategy and has renewed its dedication to LiMux. Let's also ignore the fact that the City employees do not consider it a good idea to go back to Windows.
So, what was it that prompted LiMux to be put into question in the news?
If you guessed that Office interoperatbility may have something to do with it, you would be right. As long as there are competing standards there will be incompatibility between the dominant vendor and the rest of the market. Document exchange remains a constant issue that is ultimately only solved at the political level. This particular problem is not technical and the UK has recently demonstrated that they will choose open documents as the standard format to deal with it.
- Why we use open source - Australia’s Immigration agency explains Aug 29, 2014
FutureGov - The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection uses a free and open source software for it’s “most high-level analytics”, Klaus Felsche, Director of Risk Tiering and Analytics has told FutureGov.
Why choose open source? “In some ways, [the open source software used by the agency] is effectively more capable” than commercial products, he said. “In terms of cost-effectiveness, [it] wins hands down: no license/maintenance fees, extensible architecture [and] global open source R&D.” The team uses an open source software package called ‘R’.
Felsche added: “Real costs do exist: we need to keep a specialist team on staff to build, maintain it, but in the bigger scheme of things, other software would require similar in-house support.”
- Five big names that use Linux on the desktop Aug 28, 2014
TechRepublic -It's not just Munich city council that uses Linux on the desktop. A number of household names have also opted for open source.
Munich city council's decision to move from Windows to Linux may be under scrutiny, but it's worth remembering it's not the only major organisation to have chosen open source for its desktops.
Linux-based desktop operating systems face barriers to widespread adoption and skepticism about their future prospects due to their limited use today.
Yet major users do exist, including companies such as Google and a small but growing number of government bodies.
Here are five of the highest-profile users of the Linux desktop worldwide.
- Linux-on-the-desktop pioneer Munich now considering a switch back to Windows Aug 19, 2014
ArsTechnica - The world is still waiting for the year of Linux on the desktop, but in 2003 it looked as if that goal was within reach. Back then, the city of Munich announced plans to switch from Microsoft technology to Linux on 14,000 PCs belonging to the city's municipal government. While the scheme suffered delays, it was completed in December 2013. There's only been one small problem: users aren't happy with the software, and the government isn't happy with the price.
The switch was motivated by a desire to reduce licensing costs and end the city's dependence on a single company. City of Munich PCs were running Windows NT 4, and the end of support for that operating system meant that it was going to incur significant licensing costs to upgrade. In response, the plan was to migrate to OpenOffice and Debian Linux. Later, the plan was updated to use LibreOffice and Ubuntu.
German media is reporting that the city is now considering a switch back to Microsoft in response to these complaints. The city is putting together an independent expert group to look at the problem, and if that group recommends using Microsoft software, Deputy Mayor Josef Schmid of the CSU party says that a switch back isn't impossible.
Schmid describes two major problems. The first is the issue of compatibility; users in the rest of Germany that use other (Microsoft) software have had trouble with the files generated by Munich's open source applications. The second is price, with Schmid saying that the city now has the impression that "Linux is very expensive" due to custom programming. Schmid also appears to be an Outlook fan, bemoaning the loss of a single application to crosslink mail, contacts, and appointments.
- France parliamentary committee: 'encourage European open source software market Aug 18, 2014
Joinup - Europe should encourage the market for free source software solutions, using public procurement and by making open standards mandatory, recommends a French parliamentary committee. Using free software is strategic as it increases IT security, reduces economic dependencies and fights rent-seeking by closed source software vendors. To avoid straining innovation, the committee also advises against European patents on software.
On 9 July the committee, headed by Senator Catherine Morin-Desailly, published its final report, "Nouveau rôle et nouvelle stratégie pour l’Union européenne dans la gouvernance mondiale de l’Internet" (New role and new strategy for the European Union in the global governance of the Internet). The committee stresses that Europe should increase its influence in the governance of the Internet.
- New US government digital team picks open source because it is ‘easier to use’ Aug 18, 2014
FutureGov - Open source software is easier to use than proprietary software, 18F - the US Government’s digital services team, has told FutureGov.
The team set out its preference for open source in a blog published on 29 July. When asked by FutureGov whether open source is harder to use than proprietary software, Eric Mill, Software Engineer at 18F responded: “Not at all. It’s typically just the opposite, especially with larger open source projects.”
- Socitm challenges benefits of single local government website Aug 05, 2014
Kable - Group calls for shared APIs and open source initiatives instead of single local gov.uk-style portal
Public sector IT managers' group Socitm has rejected the viability of a single gov.uk-style service for local councils, favouring instead to provide authorities with tools and open source software that would still allow for sharing of resources without compromising local autonomy.
Despite accepting current frustrations with the "slow pace" of how local authorities are shifting to digital working, the organisation has questioned whether a single online resource for UK councils would be manageable. In particular, it raised concerns about whether a single local authority site could meet the specific needs of every individual council across the country as required for decentralised government.
Socitm has said it will publish further guidance in the coming months over how more open source, publically owned software and application programming interfaces (APIs) can be used at local council level to provide tools that better serve the unique needs of individual councils.
- SAP embraces opens source -- sort of Jul 30, 2014
Info World - At the annual OSCON (Open Source Convention) last week, those stuck in a worldview of open source from the previous decade would have suffered serious cognitive dissonance.
First, Microsoft was an anchor of the conference, with a full-scale display from Jean Paoli's subsidiary Microsoft Open Technologies. As I walked past I repeatedly heard people expressing shock that Microsoft was there at such scale. Wholehearted support for open source still largely stops at the boundaries of Microsoft's Azure cloud offering, but plenty of staff people with genuine open source credentials were showing their wares. Microsoft's journey is definitely progressing.
- We're living in a post-open source world Jul 22, 2014
Java World - After years of bitter feuds between free software and open source advocates, open source won. But it was a temporary victory. While proponents of Apache-style licensing had a brief period to gloat, the GitHub generation seems determined to take open source to its logical conclusion: releasing most software under no license at all.
Are developers simply too careless to bother with a license, or is something bigger underway?
- Open source in local government, and other unicorns Jul 03, 2014
Computing - Oligopolies are unhealthy. When a small number of firms dominates a market, customers are left with a dearth of choice, and in the worst cases the dominant firms collude to raise prices.
And “oligopoly” describes fairly accurately the situation regarding software procurement within UK government. In fact, when it comes to office software “monopoly” might be a more appropriate description: it’s basically Microsoft or Microsoft. It’s estimated that UK government departments have spent over £200m of public money on Microsoft Office applications since 2010.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude admitted earlier this year: “The software we use in government is still supplied by just a few large companies. A tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace.” And Microsoft’s dominance of Whitehall appears at first glance to be reflected too in local government. When Computing spoke to Jos Creese, CIO of Hampshire County Council, and holder of one of the largest IT budgets in local government according to one inside source, he explained that Microsoft works out cheaper than open source
- Celebrating 30 Years of the X Windows System Jun 30, 2014
The Standards Blog - Andy Updegrove - Where were you when you first learned about open source software? If you’re under, say, the age of 40, your answer will probably be, “Come again? I’ve always known about it!” But if you’re older, you may recall the first time you ever heard the phrase. Maybe it was when Netscape announced it was going to “open source” its Navigator Browser, or perhaps when you heard the name Richard Stallman for the first time. It may also be the case that it was some time before you really got your arms around what open software (or Stallman’s Free and Open Software) really meant in all of its various connotations – license-wise, commercial and community.
Or maybe you got involved before the phrase “open source software” had even been coined (in 1998, by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond) to describe what it was they were doing.
That’s what happened in my case, when one day I got a call from one of the great unsung heroes of the open source movement – Bob Scheifler, of MIT. Bob is not only a wizard with code, but he did for the X Window System – the code that enabled the GUI for the then dominant non-desktop operating system (UNIX) and is still used in Linux today – what Linus Torvalds did seven years later for Linux itself.
- Google Forks Open Source OpenSSL Web Security Code Jun 24, 2014
The VAR Guy - In the wake of Heartbleed, there may soon be as many variants of the open source OpenSSL software for encrypting Web traffic as there are Pokemon characters—or something like that. A few days ago, Google (GOOG) became the latest organization to announce its own OpenSSL spin, which it's calling BoringSSL.
Google developer Adam Langley announced BoringSSL—a name he described as "aspirational," presumably because Google hopes the new software will prove more drama-free than OpenSSL—in a blog post on June 20.
Google has made its own modifications to the OpenSSL code for some time for use in Chrome and other offerings, Langley said. But going forward, the company intends to fork OpenSSL entirely to create a separate solution, a change it hopes will simplify development on Google's end.
That said, Langley emphasized that Google is "not aiming to replace OpenSSL as an open source project," and will continue sharing code with the OpenSSL developers when it will help them fix bugs in their own software. Those code contributions will be available under an ISC license, a type of open source license that the GNU folks—who probably spend more time than anyone else worrying about keeping software Free—regard as essentially kosher.
- Russia Government Chooses GNU/Linux with Chips Jun 23, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Russia's government has been flirting with the idea of switching to open source for some time, but often that's been just another example of waving the threat around to encourage Microsoft to offer more favourable licensing terms for using its software, as has happened frequently in the UK. However, a new move by the Russian authorities might finally see them making the switch:
Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry plans to replace US microchips Intel and AMD, used in government’s computers, with domestically-produced micro processor Baikal in a project worth dozens of millions of dollars, business daily Kommersant reported Thursday.
It's not hard to guess why Russia wants to shift away from Intel and AMD chips: in the light of Snowden's revelations, there has to be a strong presumption that most of the advanced technology exported from the US has backdoors that allow the NSA to spy on users around the world. Hardware is especially problematic, since it can't simply be hacked to remove the dodgy bits. Interestingly, Russia is opting to use the ARM processor:
- Leipzig is switching to open source office suites Jun 19, 2014
Joinup - The German city of Leipzig is switching to using open source suites of office productivity tools: Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice. It expects that in the first five years the anticipated savings will be swallowed by the exit costs associated with the proprietary software used by the city. Starting in 2017, however, the city expects to lower its IT costs by some 100,000 euro, says Lars Greifzu, responsible for marketing and sales at Lecos, the city-owned IT service provider.
Greifzu was one of the speakers at a workshop on open source in public administration, organised by the Major Cities of Europe association, which took place in Dublin on 17 January.
The city began its switch to the open source office suites in 2012, following political debates. The Leipzig administration will increasingly turn to free and open source, Greifzu said, as the city's politicians object to the cost of proprietary software licences, and want to get rid of IT vendor lock-in.
- Vienna: on the Open Source Path to Munich Jun 09, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Open Enterprise has been charting the continuing rise of open source software for many years. In numerous areas, its dominance is evident, but there's one - local government - where its success has been more limited. The most famous example of a city moving to open source is Munich, but even that has been a huge struggle to complete:
More than ten years ago the city of Munich took a decision that was bound to put its IT administrators in the spotlight. At that time it was clear that Microsoft would soon stop supporting Windows NT 4.0, the operating system that ran most of the more than 10,000 desktop machines in the Bavarian capital. The IT specialists and politicians in Munich had to decide: a migration was inevitable, but to where?
- Coverity Scan Report Finds Open Source Software Quality Outpaces Proprietary Code for the First Time Jun 04, 2014
Coverity, Inc., a Synopsys company (Nasdaq:SNPS), today released the 2013 Coverity Scan™ Open Source Report. The report details the analysis of 750 million lines of open source software code through the Coverity Scan service and commercial usage of the Coverity® Development Testing Platform, the largest sample size that the report has studied to date. For the 2013 Coverity Scan Report, the company analyzed code from more than 700 open source C/C++ projects as well as an anonymous sample of enterprise projects. In addition, the report highlights analysis results from several popular, open source Java projects that have joined the Scan service since March 2013.
- Linux Foundation flings two full-time developers at OpenSSL May 30, 2014
The Register - The Linux Foundation's new elite tech repair team has named its initial areas of focus as it works to find and seal holes in widely-used open source software.
The Linux Foundation announced on Thursday that members of the "Core Infrastructure Initiative" (CII) will dedicate resources to working on the Network Time Protocol, OpenSSH, and OpenSSL to hunt down and fix flaws in the tech that helps tie the internet together.
"All software development requires support and funding. Open source software is no exception and warrants a level of support on par with the dominant role it plays supporting today's global information infrastructure," said Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation.
- Met Office selects 2ndQuadrant to help with data migration to open source May 29, 2014
Computing - The Met Office has selected PostgreSQL specialists 2ndQuadrant to provide training, support and consultancy as the weather service bids to shift from proprietary database solutions that require a licence fee to other alternatives.
The selection of 2ndQuadrant comes after two pilot projects went into production in April when the Met Office's locations management database (Strabo) and LIDAR (light detector) data capture system were implemented again into object-relational database management system PostgreSQL and open source software program PostGIS.
"Making data accessible and available is at the forefront of our ICT strategy so, following some refreshingly comprehensive training delivered by 2ndQuadrant experts deeply immersed in the PostgreSQL community, we trust them to help us change the software which stores our vast quantities of data," said James Tomkins, data services portfolio technical lead at the Met Office.
"This is a titanic task which requires considerable investment in terms of time and training but, in the long run, simplifying our databases in this way will be cost effective."
- Use of money saving open source software skyrockets May 28, 2014
ITProPortal - One London CIO has claimed to the UK press that in cases where the public sector can no longer provide competitive cost savings with proprietary systems, it may choose to adopt open source alternatives.
According to Geoff Connell, Havering and Newham joint head of ICT, despite the government’s open source drive, even after all this time open source tends to only be used for niche solutions.
TCO (total cost of ownership) is the biggest problem in adopting open source technology and software in the public sector, Connell contends.
“Newham did a study of total cost of ownership for wall-to-wall Microsoft products vs. open source 10 years ago and the Microsoft approach won,” said Connell.
“Sadly, I don’t think this has changed at a corporate level. The cost of support, retraining, plus higher integration costs favour Microsoft, Oracle etc,” he added.
Connell claimed that he is not against the use of open source - but does believe that since public sector leaders like him are under huge pressure to deliver rapid returns on investment, ‘shared source’ technologies are often more financially viable.
- Whither Mozilla? May 19, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - I've been writing about Mozilla for sixteen years now, ever since Netscape's momentous 1998 announcement that it would be open-sourcing its browser. I've followed the project's ups and downs, as it struggled to get a usable application out of the door. Even after it managed to do so, it effectively had to "throw one away", and start again by moving from the Mozilla Internet application suite to Firefox.
It then faced the uphill struggle of taking on Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6, which completely dominated the browser sector. The odds were against it, but Mozilla succeeded - largely, I think, because it had an important and well-defined mission: to preserve and nurture the open Web. It later crystallised that mission into the eloquent Mozilla Manifesto:
The Internet is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives.
- FSF slams Mozilla for 'shocking' Firefox DRM ankle-grab May 18, 2014
The Register - Stallman org claims users sold out to 'hostile' media firms.
The Free Software Foundation says it is "deeply disappointed" in Mozilla's decision to support digital rights management (DRM) software in future versions of its Firefox browser and has published an open letter condemning the move.
Mozilla announced on Wednesday that it will work with Adobe to ensure that Firefox supports Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) – which are being added to the HTML5 spec at the behest of major content providers – even though it is ideologically opposed to DRM.
In an editorial posted Wednesday evening, the FSF characterized that choice as "unfortunate" and "shocking", and said Mozilla risked compromising the principles that set it apart from other browser makers.
"We recognize that Mozilla is doing this reluctantly, and we trust these words coming from Mozilla much more than we do when they come from Microsoft or Amazon," the letter reads. "At the same time, nearly everyone who implements DRM says they are forced to do it, and this lack of accountability is how the practice sustains itself."
The FSF was particularly critical of Mozilla's decision to partner with Adobe, which it described in its letter as "the company who has been and continues to be a vicious opponent of the free software movement and the free Web."
- Think tank: Open source requires cultural shift of UK councils May 12, 2014
Joinup - Local government services in the United Kingdom should consider switching to open source software solutions, recommends the Local Government Information Unit, a think tank, in a report published this Tuesday. "The collective thinking and cost-effectiveness that open source providers offer cannot be matched in terms of expertise [and] of value for money by the traditional proprietary software providers. This cultural shift will open the door for a new era of innovative IT solutions that can transform local government services, empowering staff and delivering unrivalled value to taxpayers."
Despite encouragement from the central government, open source "has, as yet, failed to catch-on with local government outside of niche, back-office, applications", the LGIU writes. The think tank blames IT vendor lock-in, hindering migration to for instance open source office productivity tools such as LibreOffice, or Apache OpenOffice.
"For many years, expensive mega-vendors have dominated the IT procurement space in the UK public sector", LGIU writes. "In this environment, the notion that buying into costly, inflexible contracts is somehow the 'safe option' has taken hold and led to numerous projects that often finish over budget and over time."
- Australia plans whole-of-government open source cloud-based content management system May 12, 2014
FutureGov - The Australian Government is planning a whole-of-government Content Management System (GovCMS) using open source Drupal software hosted on public cloud, Government Chief Technology Officer, John Sheridan announced.
GovCMS will support more effective service delivery through the web channel and enable agencies to focus on higher-value activities that are more aligned with their core missions. Sheridan emphasised on the use of cloud services as an important step towards simplifying ICT, and eliminating duplicated and fragmented activities across agencies.
The use of open source for GovCMS will enable sharing of code, modules and applications, and is expected to reduce development costs. “We expect all code and modules developed for use in the open source platform would be made freely available for all Government agencies (and the wider open source community) to freely utilise modules developed for the chosen open source platform,” states the draft Statement of Requirements as one of the objectives of GovCMS.
- Open source 'fails to excite councils' May 08, 2014
Public Technology - Open source technology has failed to catch on with local government and is not necessarily cheaper than proprietary software, according to a new report.
The claim was made in a new briefing by the Local Government Information Unit, which takes a look at the digital landscape in the council sector.
The document, produced by LGIU associate Stuart Bentley, who is a policy officer at Wolverhampton City Council, listed a number of problems with open source technology, saying that it is currently only used in a few niche, back office applications.
- Red Hat acquires Inktank for $175M May 01, 2014
Red Hat - Open-source enterprise software firm Red Hat said Wednesday it has inked a $175 million cash deal to acquire Inktank, a provider of scale-out, open-source storage systems.
Inktank is best known for its flagship technology Ceph, an enterprise system that delivers object and block storage software for deployments in public or private clouds. Red Hat plans to use Inktank’s expertise in this area to position itself as the go-to source for open software-defined storage.
- “Each time we look at open source, Microsoft is cheaper” says local government CIO Apr 30, 2014
Computing - Local government CIO Jos Creese has come out in favour of Microsoft over open source alternatives, explaining that it has always proved to be the cheaper option when he has examined the alternatives.
Speaking exclusively to Computing, Creese said: "We use Microsoft [for our desktops]. Each time we've looked at open source for desktop and costed it out, Microsoft has proved cheaper."
He explained that this is because most staff are already familiar with Microsoft products, and that they work well with the thin client model employed at Hampshire council. But it's also partly down to Microsoft itself.
"Microsoft has been flexible and helpful in the way we apply their products to improve the operation of our frontline services, and this helps to de-risk ongoing cost. The point is that the true cost is in the total cost of ownership and exploitation, not just the licence cost. So I don't have a dogma about open source over Microsoft, but proprietary solutions - from Microsoft, SAP to Oracle and others - need to justify themselves and to work doubly hard to have flexible business models to help us further our aims," Creese argued, adding that his organisation does also use open source solutions in some areas.
- Tech Giants Pledge $3.6M to Help Fund OpenSSL Following Heartbleed Bug Apr 25, 2014
International Business Times - A group of 12 technology companies including Intel, IBM, Facebook and Google have pledged $3.6 million (£2.1m) to help maintain under-funded open source software projects which are "essential to the global computing infrastructure" with OpenSSL - the software which caused the huge Heartbleed Bug - the first to receive funding.
The full list of companies is Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell, Facebook, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NetApp, Rackspace, and VMware, all of whom have pledged to commit at least $100,000 a year for at least three years to the Core Infrastructure Initiative.
The announcement of the support comes after a couple of weeks when system administrators have been rushing to patch a vulnerable version of the OpenSSL library which caused what became known as the Heartbleed Bug and left millions of web users vulnerable to attack - potentially leaving sensitive information like passwords and credit card details open to attack.
Last week the president of the OpenSSL Software Foundation (OSF) made a plea for greater support from governments and companies to help prevent another serious security flaw like Heartbleed.
- Heartbleed OpenSSL Bug Reveals the True Cost of Open-Source Software Apr 14, 2014
The scandal is that giant enterprises are doing nothing to contribute to the development, testing and validation of the free software on which they depend. They are takers, pure and simple.
Nothing makes this more obvious than the details revealed by the German developer who was responsible for the bug in the first place, Dr. Robin Seggelmann.
Dr. Seggelmann, it appears, was spending his end-of-the-year holiday working to fix bugs in the first version of OpenSSL, the encryption software that was becoming a standard on the Internet. While he was at it, Seggelmann developed a way to create a heartbeat function that could keep encrypted sessions open rather than timing out over time.
- 'Heartbleed' bug in web technology threatens user data Apr 10, 2014
The Telegraph - A flaw has been discovered in the encryption technology used to protect many of the world's major websites, leaving them vulnerable to data theft.
The so-called ‘Heartbleed’ bug, discovered by a team of researchers from Google and a small Finnish security firm called Codenomicon, is said to be one of the most serious security flaws ever found, partly because it remained undiscovered for more than two years.
Attackers can exploit vulnerable versions of the open-source software known as OpenSSL – which runs on millions of web servers – to steal passwords, credit card details, encryption keys and other sensitive data, without leaving any trace.
- Liam Maxwell: Government open source code is one of UK’s best exports Mar 25, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - The open source code that the government runs is one of Britain’s “great” exports, according to government CTO Liam Maxwell.
Maxwell told the Think Cloud for Government conference in London that the UK benefits from an exchange of knowledge by being open. Most of Gov.uk code is open source, allowing other countries to use it for their own government digital services.
A similar government site in New Zealand has adapted Gov.uk's basic design elements, saving time, money and resources, Maude said.
- 2014 is the year of the Linux desktop Mar 17, 2014
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - Linux has unexpectedly made it to the desktop through mobile and cloud, but the unintended consequences are troubling.
Wait, isn't the Linux desktop dead? As I observed last year, it all depends on how you define it.
Many of us had expected a revolutionary overthrow of Windows by something that was, for all intents and purposes, just Windows with Linux under the hood. Instead, we have Chrome OS and Android, which are both essentially Linux, along with services delivered through the browser by cloud providers that run Linux on their servers.
- Alfresco win UK Open Source Company of the year Mar 10, 2014
Digital Journal - The UK Open Source Awards attracted a wide variety of very high quality nominations in each of the Student, Person or Project and Company categories. The process of selecting a short list and choosing a winner in each category was a difficult task for the judges.
Keith Bergelt of the Open Invention Network gave an insightful and inspiring keynote speech and noted the energy and commitment of the open source community in general and the tangible sense of purpose and coherence among the delegates to the event evening. Keith was also persuasive that open source was an unstoppable force, the primary trajectory driving innovation and would be the pervasive model of the future.
Awards host, Maggie Morrison, from event sponsors CGI, capturing the spirit of the evening, noted that “open source is all about community and the evidence for that is here this evening”.
It is with great pleasure that the judges announce that the winners of the Awards were:
- Open source wins the day once again in Munich Feb 28, 2014
ZDNet - The City of Munich, famous for dropping Windows for a Linux OS, has chosen open-source software to handle mail and calendar for its staff.
The authority running the German city of Munich, famous for ditching Windows in favour of a home-grown Linux OS, has chosen an open-source software suite to handle email and calendar for its staff.
The City of Munich has chosen to use the Kolab Enterprise groupware software to manage mail, calendar, task, and contact lists.
The decision comes soon after the council completed a nine year project to migrate more than 14,800 of its PCs from Windows to Limux, a custom build of Ubuntu — a choice the project lead described as not being about saving money, but about freedom from lock-in.
Limux project lead Peter Hofmann signalled at the time that the city of Munich would do its best not to let itself become too dependent on a single technology vendor again.
"We saw from the start that if you're only relying on one contributor to supply your operating system, your office system and your infrastructure, you're stuck with it," he said.
- Microsoft hits back at government's open source plans Feb 20, 2014
CRN - Microsoft has urged its partners to pay closer attention to what it describes as the government's "ill-considered" proposals to move to a more open IT model.
Last month, the government hinted it was considering moving away from technology such as Microsoft Office in favour of open-source offerings in an effort to break supplier "oligopoly".
According to Microsoft, the government is currently undergoing a consultation on plans to mandate the use of Open Document Formats (ODF) and to ditch Microsoft-developed Open XML (OOXML).
Today, in a blog post to UK resellers, Microsoft said the new open approach could cause problems for businesses and government IT suppliers.
"This move has the potential to impact businesses selling to government, who may be forced to comply [with the new open format]," it said.
- Open source startups: Don't try to be Red Hat Feb 18, 2014
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - VCs are realizing the next billion-dollar software company won't make money from software, but from what open source enables it to deliver
If you were a VC, you'd be looking for a way to turn your millions into billions. If you had only ever made money by betting on proprietary corporations, you would probably conclude that open source was a poor way to win big.
If, like Andreessen Horowitz VC and former XenSource CEO Peter Levine, your work on an open source platform had made you rich, you might conclude that open source had a role to play, but could never make you as rich as Oracle and probably not even as rich as Red Hat has become through its once-in-a-lifetime exploitation of the Linux and GNU commons. Indeed, that's the conclusion Levine reached in an article for TechCrunch this week.
- Open Letter to Members of the European Parliament on Free Software and the Free Software Pact Feb 05, 2014
April - On Friday 31 January 2014, April sent an open letter to all Members of the European Parliament on Free Software and the European Parliament, in order to take stock of the finishing term and to know what is their project in regards to Free Software.
As European elections will take place at the end of May 2014, this is an opportunity to take stock of the last few years and to offer them to sign the Free Software Pact again.
The Free Software Pact campaign for the 2014 European election was just launched as well. Don't hesitate to contact you future MEPs to inform them about Free Software.
The text of the open letter:
- UK Cabinet Office Signals Move Towards Open Source Office Suites Feb 01, 2014
The Standards Blog - Andy Updegrove - It was ten years ago that the CIO of Massachusetts rattled the desktop world by announcing that the Executive Agencies of the Commonwealth would henceforth license only office suite software that complied with the OpenDocument Format. The shock waves that followed were attributable to the fact that while the open source OpenOffice office suite was built around that standard, the dominant product – Microsoft’s venerable Office suite did not.
Yesterday, the UK Cabinet Office blew some life back into the embers left behind by what was one of the most epic standards wars in history (you can follow that saga from the beginning here and the first five chapters of a book I started to write about it here).
Much has changed since 2004, including the upgrading of Office to comply with the ODF standard, as well as another XML document format standard – OOXML – launched by Microsoft itself and eventually (like ODF before it) adopted by ISO.
Thus it was that while the announcement a few months ago that ODF would be added to the list of standards approved by the UK Cabinet Office for procurement elicited memories of that saga, it did not sound the alarums that battle was about to be waged again.
That changed yesterday, when Francis Maude, a senior UK government minister, revealed that the Cabinet Office has more in mind than ensuring that UK citizens will be able to download documents in ODF form, thus providing product choice to that end of the document equation. Rather, Maude stated that the government must free itself from control by the “tiny oligopoly” of software vendors that “dominates the marketplace." More particularly, he stated that “I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software.”
The way to achieve that end, he explained, would be through mandatory compliance by vendors with specific standards:
- UK picks Open Document Format for all government files Jan 31, 2014
The Register - The UK Government has decided that Open Document Format, the OpenOffice-derived file format, is the best choice for all government documents.
“When dealing with citizens, information should be digital by default and therefore should be published online. Browser-based editing is the preferred option for collaborating on published government information. HTML (4.01 or higher e.g. HTML5) is therefore the default format for browser-based editable text. Other document formats specified in this proposal - ODF 1.1 (or higher e.g. ODF 1.2), plain text (TXT) or comma separated values (CSV) - should be provided in addition. ODF includes filename extensions such as .odt for text, .ods for spreadsheets and .odp for presentations.”
CSV files are preferred for “statistical or numerical information … preferably with a preview provided in HTML.”
“For information being collaborated on between departments” it is suggested that “browser-based editing is preferable but often not currently available. Therefore, information should be shared in ODF (version 1.1 or higher e.g. ODF 1.2).”
In-browser editing is preferred across the board, and “To avoid lock-in to a particular provider, it must be possible for documents being created or worked on in a cloud environment to be exported in at least one of the editable document formats proposed.”
- Is ODF Finally Coming to UK Government? Jan 30, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Back in December, I lamented the almost complete disappearance of ODF in discussions around office formats. I also pointed to a consultation being run by the UK government on the subject - or, rather "document format challenges" as it preferred to call it. Even though that only closed a couple of weeks ago, Francis Maude has just made a speech in which he discusses what's happening there:
Today I can announce that we’ve set out the document formats that we propose should be adopted across government - and we’re asking you to tell us what you think about them.
It’s not about banning any one product or imposing an arbitrary list of standards. Our plan, as you would expect, is about going back to the user needs, setting down our preferences and making sure we can choose the software that meets our requirements best.
Technical standards for document formats may not set the pulse racing - it may not sound like the first shot in a revolution. But be in no doubt: the adoption of open standards in government threatens the power of lock-in to propriety vendors yet it will give departments the power to choose what is right for them and the citizens who use their services.
- UK government plans switch from Microsoft Office to open source Jan 30, 2014
The Guardian - Ministers are looking at saving tens of millions of pounds a year by abandoning expensive software produced by firms such as Microsoft.
Some £200m has been spent by the public sector on the computer giant's Office suite alone since 2010.
But the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes a significant proportion of that outlay could be cut by switching to software which can produce open-source files in the "open document format" (ODF), such as OpenOffice and Google Docs.
Document formats are set to be standardised across Whitehall to help break the "oligopoly" of IT suppliers, and improve communications between civil servants.
The proposal is part of the coalition's drive to make its procurement more effective and efficient.
- Maude backs plan to switch software Jan 29, 2014
London Evening Standard - Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes the Government can make savings by switching to free 'open source' software.
Some £200 million has been spent by the public sector on the computer giant's Office suite alone since 2010.
But Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes a significant proportion of that outlay could be cut by switching to free 'open source' software such as OpenOffice and Google Docs.
Document formats are set to be standardised across Whitehall to help break the "oligopoly" of IT suppliers, and improve communications between civil servants.
The proposal is part of the coalition's drive to make its procurement more effective and efficient.
Speaking at a cross-government event showcasing new online services today, Mr Maude will say: "The software we use in Government is still supplied by just a few large companies. A tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace.
- Oracle Won’t Block Open Source In The Public Sector Jan 27, 2014
TechWeekEurope - Last year, Oracle flamed out in its attempt to stall the adoption of open source technology by the US Department of Defense (DoD) when a White Paper surfaced, in which Oracle warns the DoD about the dangers of hidden costs and inefficiency of open source software, and tries to explain the proper handling of such technology.
The bottom line message to the DoD was essentially: “It’s too dangerous, so let us handle the open source; we’ll give it to you through our products”.’ But what the White Paper doesn’t mention is that by choosing Oracle, the DoD robs itself of the freedom and flexibility associated with open source technology.
- Mozilla's Biggest Move in 2014: Getting Political Jan 20, 2014
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Among the major free software projects, Mozilla is special, and for multiple reasons. It's one of the oldest, going back to 1998. It's one of the biggest, in terms of number of contributors. It's one of the most ambitious, with a wide range of projects tackling important issues in big markets. And last, but not least, it's the richest open source project, with millions in the bank thanks to its lucrative deal with Google.
- 'Like driving a Ferrari at 20mph': Why one region ditched Microsoft Office for LibreOffice Jan 20, 2014
ZDNet - One of the most carefully designed transitions away from proprietary software is underway in the Italian province of Umbria, with cost, culture and efficiency all spurring the move.
If you're up for a visit to the beautiful Italian region of Umbria, better make sure your laptop is running some open source software — chances are you'll feel more at home there.
This small area in the middle of the Boot, known for its centuries-old monasteries and for being the birthplace of St Francis of Assisi, is in fact quickly becoming a mecca of free software.
- UK gov conference to showcase open source Jan 06, 2014
Joinup - Successful use of open source software by public administrations in the United Kingdom will be presented at a conference in London on 3 April 2014. Presentations include the use of this type of solutions by the 'Transport for Greater Manchester' for its bus, rail, tram and highway information system and by the Greater London Authority, using it to maximise service innovation.
The GLA will present how the use of open source technologies helps it to reduce costs associated with its ICT infrastructure. It will lists the risks and benefits "associated with open source and legacy ICT, including measures taken to avoid lock-in." Manchester will provide "insights into the multi-modal passenger information system integrating data from bus, rail, tram and highway services delivered over an open source information exchange."
- Report: Salesforce.com joining OpenStack Dec 19, 2013
InfoWorld - Salesforce.com, the preeminent SaaS (software as a service) company, is reportedly joining the open source OpenStack project.
The Wall Street Journal quotes Graham Weston, co-founder and chairman of Rackspace, which is one of the original OpenStack companies, to report the news. The move would be a major endorsement of the open source platform by yet another major technology company. Salesforce.com would join the ranks of Cisco, IBM, Intel, Red Hat, Dell, HP and dozens of others who have thrown support behind the open source infrastructure as a service (IaaS) project.
- German coalition favors German-owned or open source software, aims to lock NSA out Dec 18, 2013
PCAdvisor - Germany's new coalition government listed open source software among its IT policy priorities, and said it will take steps to protect its citizens against espionage threats from the NSA and other foreign intelligence agencies.
Coalition parties CDU, CSU and SPD signed up to the plans Monday in Berlin.
The new government's goal is to keep core technologies, including IT security, process and enterprise software, cryptography and machine-to-machine communication on proprietary technology platforms and production lines in Germany or in Europe, according to the coalition agreement.
- Switch to open source successfully completed, city of Munich says Dec 13, 2013
PCWorld - Munich’s switch to open-source software has been successfully completed, with the vast majority of the public administration’s users now running its own version of Linux, city officials said Thursday.
In one of the premier open-source software deployments in Europe, the city migrated from Windows NT to LiMux, its own Linux distribution. LiMux incorporates a fully open-source desktop infrastructure. The city also decided to use the Open Document Format (ODF) as a standard, instead of proprietary options.
Ten years after the decision to switch, the LiMux project will now go into regular operation, the Munich City council said in a document published on its website.
As of November last year, the city saved more than €11.7 million (US$16.1 million) because of the switch. More recent figures were not immediately available, but cost savings were not the only goal of the operation. It was also done to be less dependent on manufacturers, product cycles and proprietary OSes, the council said Thursday.
- Hungary's open source centre kicks off website Dec 09, 2013
Joinup - The Hungarian government's resource centre on open source unveiled its new site in mid-November, kicking off the next phase in the centre's activities, focussing on information dissemination. Last week the centre organised its first conference in the capital Budapest, opened by Gábor Fekete, deputy secretary of state. In the next few weeks, the centre's six staffers will be travelling around the country, presenting on the advantages of free and open source in the country's largest cities, Győr, Szeged, Debrecen and Pécs.
These meetings are intended for the IT staff of local public administrations, including courts and municipalities.
- Dropbox joins Linux patent protection hit squad Dec 05, 2013
The Register - A company launched to defend Linux on PCs and servers is turning its attention to venture-backed cloud startups and mobile.
The Open Invention Network (OIN) has revealed Dropbox is its latest licensee, potentially shielding the cloud document-sharing service from patent attackers.
OIN owns an artillery of patents covering Linux which it makes available to members and licensees on a royalty-free basis.
Licensees are then sheltered from lawsuits by those people might bring over the patents.
Keith Bergelt, OIN chief executive, told The Register: “These are the kinds of companies we are spending more time with – growth companies, strong, venture-backed companies going public or who are in a position where they could go public in the next two to three years."
- 5 factors to consider when selecting an open-source vendor Dec 03, 2013
PCW - Government agency adoption of open source in many ways mirrors the path followed by many in-demand technologies in the public sector. Early on, agencies evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of the emerging technology -- whether it is open source, big data, cloud computing, mobility, etc. -- relative to the traditional, legacy alternative. Then, as more agencies experience the tangible benefits of the technology and demand increases, the market follows, and suddenly agencies are facing not one or two vendor options but dozens.
After several years of being used in a broad range of situations, open source finds itself at this inflection point. The most familiar open-source platforms for government agencies include Red Hat Linux (operating system), Red Hat JBoss (application platform), Oracle MySQL (database) and, of course, Apache HTTP Server, the most successful open-source platform deployed in the public sector today.
But the open-source community has expanded significantly beyond those leading platforms and technologies, and as agencies move forward with open-source projects and evaluate new solutions, there are several key factors to consider.
.... 3. The platform’s commitment to open standards
Agencies might assume that the act of moving to an open-source stack eliminates the possibility of vendor lock-in. In reality, open source can still result in vendor lock-in if an agency selects a solution that does not adequately take advantage of open standards.
By selecting an open-source stack that embraces open standards as core components of its architecture (not just as an interface layer) and uses those open standards in its development process, agencies can avoid lock-in when they decide to migrate to another stack in the future.
Many leading open-source entities embrace that model, which is why top-tier open-source communities like Apache have projects broken down by functional areas that integrate using agreed-upon standards. The best-executed stacks leverage dozens of open-source projects and integrate those components based on open standards, thereby reducing the likelihood of vendor lock-in while simplifying configuration, integration, installation and support.
- The Coming Chinese Android Invasion Nov 04, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Remember all those years ago, when people laughed at the first Android phones (which were, to tell the truth, pretty clunky, but still...). Remember how Apple fans have always insisted that however well Android did in the smartphone market, it would always be second best, and never seriously threaten Apple's dominance? Well here's what actually happened:
Global smartphone shipments reached 251.4 million units in Q3 2013, up 45 percent from 172.8 million units in Q3 2012. Breaking those numbers down, Google’s Android secured a whopping 81.3 percent global share, Apple’s iOS fell to 13.4 percent, and Windows Phone took third with 4.1 percent.
So does this mean that Google's dominance is now inevitable? I don't think so - and not because of a certain patent lawsuit that has just been revealed, about which I shall be writing next week. No, the real threat comes from elsewhere:
- It's time for government to increase transparency in procurement Oct 28, 2013
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - A number of attempts have been made recently to define open source models -- even new licenses -- that limit the freedom of anyone but the project instigator to benefit from the full range of rights to the software. Proponents believe they can generate a "network effect" of adoption and contribution without providing the same software freedoms to all.
They are deluding themselves.
I've been involved with open source projects in one way or another for more than a decade. I remember going through the whole learning cycle: being amazed by the fact open source software was free to the end-user; discovering a community of developers, testers, writers and deployers around each open source project; being stunned that competitors were actually collaborating in some projects; and so on. Everyone goes through this discovery process, which parallels Fowler's "stages of faith" model of personal growth.
- Is Mozilla on the Bridge of Khazad - or on the Fence? Oct 25, 2013
One hugely important voice that was missing in this conversation is that of Mozilla, well-known defender of the open Web. Because it was so crucial to have its views on this area, I sent off some questions on the topic to the organisation. I never received any direct answers to those, but Brendan Eich, whom I interviewed a couple of years ago, has written an excellent blog post with the witty title "The Bridge of Khazad-DRM" that is presumably Mozilla's official position on this topic.
It begins with the same emphasis on users that Berners-Lee adopted:
- Google’s iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary Oct 22, 2013
ArsTechnica - Android is open—except for all the good parts. Six years ago, in November 2007, the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) was announced. The original iPhone came out just a few months earlier, capturing people's imaginations and ushering in the modern smartphone era. While Google was an app partner for the original iPhone, it could see what a future of unchecked iPhone competition would be like. Vic Gundotra, recalling Andy Rubin's initial pitch for Android, stated:
He argued that if Google did not act, we faced a Draconian future, a future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice.
Google was terrified that Apple would end up ruling the mobile space. So, to help in the fight against the iPhone at a time when Google had no mobile foothold whatsoever, Android was launched as an open source project.
In that era, Google had nothing, so any adoption—any shred of market share—was welcome. Google decided to give Android away for free and use it as a trojan horse for Google services. The thinking went that if Google Search was one day locked out of the iPhone, people would stop using Google Search on the desktop. Android was the "moat" around the Google Search "castle"—it would exist to protect Google's online properties in the mobile world.
Today, things are a little different. Android went from zero percent of the smartphone market to owning nearly 80 percent of it. Android has arguably won the smartphone wars, but "Android winning" and "Google winning" are not necessarily the same thing. Since Android is open source, it doesn't really "belong" to Google. Anyone is free to take it, clone the source, and create their own fork or alternate version.
- Open Virtualisation Alliance joins the Linux Foundation Oct 22, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - The Open Virtualisation Alliance has joined the Linux Foundation as a collaborative project to deepen its ties with the Linux community.
The organisations announced their collaboration during the LinuxCon Europe conference in Edinburgh on Monday.
The Open Virtualisation Alliance (OVA) has more than 250 member companies, including IBM, Red Hat, Intel and NetApp. It aims to raise awareness and drive adoption of the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor, a full open source virtualisation platform for Linux on x86 hardware that allows users to run multiple virtual machines unmodified on Linux or Windows images. KVM can be 60 to 90 percent cheaper than other virtualisation platforms, while offering the same core functionality, according to the Alliance.
- Oracle says open source has no place in military apps Oct 17, 2013
The Register - Oracle has popped out a white paper that may well turn some heads, because it contains robust criticism of open source software.Titled “The Department of Defense (DoD) and Open Source Software” and available here as a PDF to those with Oracle accounts or here in Dropbox
, the document's premise is that folks in the USA's Department of Defense (DoD) could think it is possible to save money if they “... avoid buying commercial software products simply by starting with open source software and developing their own applications.
The paper goes on to explain why that's a bad idea and why paying Oracle for commercial software is a much more sensible thing to do.
- NHS tears out its Oracle Spine in favour of open source Oct 11, 2013
The Register - The UK government's quest to get public services to use more open source technologies seems to be taking hold, judging by the revamp of the NHS's very large Spine service.
The upgrade from Spine to Spine2 will see the NHS shift the core of its main secure patient database and messaging platform from Oracle onto a bevy of open source technologies including the Riak datastore, Redis, Nginx, Tornado, and RabbitMQ, along with some proprietary technologies like Splunk. Riak developer Basho announced the plans on Wednesday. This also sees it enlist a Brit IT contractor named BJSS to help with the rollout, as opposed to a much large mega-consultancy.
- CGI opts to launch new open source centre in Scotland Oct 11, 2013
The Open Digital Services Centre will be established in early 2014 and is expected to lead to the creation of 250 jobs.
UK President of CGI, Tim Gregory, said he opted for a Glasgow base for the centre because of the support provided by the Scottish government, as it was provided a grant to help set up.
- Spain's Zaragoza continues gradual switch to open source Oct 08, 2013
Joinup - The city of Zaragoza this summer successfully migrated the first of its Linux-based PCs to AZLinux12, a Linux distribution tailored on top of Ubuntu Linux, replacing AZLinux2 which was based on SUSE Linux. "We really prefer to use software that comes with long-term support", explains Eduardo Romero, the IT specialist leading the desktop migration project for the city administration.
The city currently has 800 of its 3200 PCs running Linux. Of these 800, 80 are running AZLinux12. The other 720 will follow over the coming months. "After that, we will gradually start migrating the other PCs, still running a decade-old proprietary operating system."
Zaragoza is using free and open source solutions where it can, says Romero. The city began in 2005 by installing web browser Firefox, email client Thunderbird and multimedia player VLC on all PCs. In 2007 it added the OpenOffice suite of office productivity tools. This is now installed on all of the city's 3200 PCs. The city's workers use Gimp for manipulating images, Inkscape for creating graphics, Pdfsam for editing PDF, Brasero for creating CDs, Kdenlive for editing video and Evince for displaying PDFs. Romero: "If there is free software alternative is available, we will use it."
- French national police switch 37,000 desktop PCs to Linux Oct 02, 2013
Wired - France's National Gendarmerie -- a national law enforcement agency -- is now running 37,000 desktop PCs with a custom version of the Linux operating system, and by summer of 2014, the agency plans to move all 72,000 of its desktop machines to the open source OS.
Linux is now the primary means of running computer servers inside the data centers that drive the web's biggest services, from Google to Amazon to Facebook, but it has struggled to replace Microsoft Windows on the desktop. The news from the Gendarmerie could be a sign that this is changing.
The agency claims the total cost of ownership of Linux and open source applications is about 40 percent less than proprietary software from Microsoft, according to an article published on the European Union's Interoperability Solutions for Public Administrations website.
To make the switch less abrupt, the Gendarmerie first moved to cross-platform open source applications such as OpenOffice, Firefox, and Thunderbird. That allowed employees to keep using Windows while they got used to the new applications. Only then did the agency move them onto a Linux OS running these same applications.
- 'Free Unix!': The world-changing proclamation made 30 years ago today Sep 30, 2013
PCWorld - It was 30 years ago today that the seeds were planted for both Linux and the open-source software movement, though neither is called that name by the man who help set both of them into motion, the irascible Richard Stallman.
On that day, Stallman, then working at the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, posted on the net.unix-wizards and net.usoft newsgroups about an ambitious new project he was embarking on.
”Free Unix!” began the missive.
”Starting this Thanksgiving I am going to write a complete Unix-compatible software system called GNU (for Gnu’s Not Unix), and give it away free to everyone who can use it. Contributions of time, money, programs and equipment are greatly needed,” he wrote.
Little did he know how many contributions this project would get in the decades to follow.
- Open-source platform gains popularity in government Sep 24, 2013
Brisbane Times - So popular has a little-known open-source program become within federal government agencies that there is now a shortage of expertise in Canberra.
Federal government chief technology officer John Sheridan said two factors were combining to drive the popularity of the Drupal content management system at the expense of proprietary software: the emergence of commercial entities able to give government the confidence to use open source, and the increasing cost and complexity of proprietary software.
Addressing a Forrester Research CIO Summit in Sydney recently, Sheridan said previous resistance to open source was gone.
- Linux Foundation on the Foundations of Linux Sep 23, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - One of the many valuable things that come out of the Linux Foundation is an annual review of Linux kernel development. It's just released the 2013 edition (freely available upon registration), and the news is resoundingly good. Here are the key points.Nearly 10,000 developers from more than 1,000 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since tracking began in 2005. Just since the last report, more than 1,100 developers from 225 companies have contributed to the kernel. In fact, more developers and companies are contributing to Linux than ever before with Linux kernel 3.10 seeing the most developer contributions ever.
- IBM invests another $1bn in Linux Sep 18, 2013
ITPRO - Big Blue looking to boost hardware ambitions by utilising the popularity of Linux.
IBM will continue to support Linux by pledging another $1 billion to the development of the operating system over the next five years.
With the injection of cash Big Blue aims to service enterprises who need to support large volume of data – something which it claims legacy technology is no longer capable of doing.
"Many companies are struggling to manage big data and cloud computing using commodity servers based on decades-old, PC-era technology,” claimed IBM fellow and VP of Power Development Brad McCredie, in a statement.
“These servers are quickly overrun by data, which triggers the purchase of more servers, creating unsustainable server sprawl.“
IBM plans to set up a Power Systems Linux Centre in Montpellier, France, and invest in a Linux on Power development cloud. This free service aims to provide businesses with the ability to build, port and test Linux/AIX applications on the Power platform.
- City of Munich throws Ubuntu lifeline to Windows XP holdouts Sep 17, 2013
The Register - Windows XP users in Germany’s third largest city are being offered free upgrades to Ubuntu ahead of termination of Microsoft support for the OS next Spring.
Administrators in the City of Munich have distributed 2,000 CDs carrying Ubuntu 12.04 LTS to libraries across the City, for users to borrow and download the Linux distro.
The Ubuntu OS is also being made available for download, with a link to the website.
- Goodbye, Encryption; Hello, FOSS Sep 17, 2013
Linux Insider - Few would deny that the world has changed since the National Security Agency's PRISM surveillance program was revealed, and not for the better.
Here in the Linux blogosphere, FOSS fans have been mulling the implications ever since the unsettling news broke back in June, but just recently things have taken on an even darker cast.
Turns out not even encryption techniques can hold the NSA at bay, at least in general, leaving users of without much to defend them.
Now, vulnerability is -- or should be -- a familiar feeling to users of Windows, in particular. For those of us in Linux land, however, it comes as something of a shock. No wonder Slashdot blogger deepdive recently sought some clarification.
- NSA's Crypto Betrayal: Good News for Open Source? Sep 12, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - Revelations from documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden that GCHQ essentially downloads the entire Internet as it enters and leaves the UK, and stores big chunks of it, was bad enough. But last week we learned that the NSA has intentionally weakened just about every aspect of online encryption:
- Suse drops LibreOffice -- and helps Collabora pick it up Sep 09, 2013
ComputerWorld - Simon Phipps - Although an independent project, LibreOffice has relied on Suse for commercial support, which Collabora will now handle.
Earlier this week, AttachMate subsidiary Suse announced it was stopping development of LibreOffice and will facilitate the migration of staff contributors to a new business focussed on the code. Michael Meeks, a key developer on the LibreOffice project, along with many of his colleagues from Suse, have formed a new productivity suite business unit of the U.K. open source specialist Collabora, dubbed Collabora Productivity.
Meeks told me: "The core of the LibreOffice team, critical to contributing to the project and supporting our customers, is alive and well inside Collabora. We expect the effort applied to LibreOffice in the community to continue as before."
- UK government culture holding back open source adoption Aug 30, 2013
Computing - There has been a lot of talk about the use of open source in government over the past few years. Francis Maude, and the Cabinet Office, have been pushing for widespread implementation for quite some time but many central government IT decision makers still seem to be hesitant about adopting new software solutions. Since the publication in March of the Government Digital Service's (GDS) Service Design Manual, it's become clear that government is starting to see open source as an option, rather than mandatory.
Despite such positive talk in the favour of this technology and its many benefits, not least of which is breaking vendor lock-in, this begs the question of what exactly is holding back Open Source adoption in government?
There are many reasons, first and foremost the perceived risk around change. Others question the reliability, saying open source is not tried and tested. Both of these points are intrinsically flawed. When done correctly, implementing open source alternatives can more often than not be very cost effective, at the very least more so than switching to another proprietary system. There are numerous examples of open source solutions being successfully and cost effectively implemented in the private sector to back this up.
- Has Apache lost its way? Aug 27, 2013
InfoWorld - Complaints of stricture over structure, signs of technical prowess on the wane -- the best days of the Apache Software Foundation may be behind.
Since its inception, the Apache Software Foundation has had a profound impact in shaping the open source movement and the tech industry at large.
Founded by the developers of the Apache HTTP server and incorporated as a nonprofit in 1999, the ASF has served as an incubator and support structure to dozens of projects that range from the modest to the massive. Subversion, OpenOffice, Tomcat, newcomers Cassandra, Lucene, Hadoop -- all have come of age under the aegis of the ASF and its core principles, informally known as "the Apache Way."
But tensions within the ASF and grumbling throughout the open source community have called into question whether the Apache Way is well suited to sponsoring the development of open source projects in today's software world. Changing attitudes toward open source licensing, conflicts with the GPL, concerns about technical innovation under the Way, fallout from the foundation's handling of specific projects in recent years -- the ASF may soon find itself passed over by the kinds of projects that have helped make it such a central fixture in open source, thanks in some measure to the way the new wave of bootstrapped, decentralized projects on GitHub don't require a foundation like atmosphere to keep them vibrant or relevant. - See more at::
- Open Source in the UK: Sharing the Fire Aug 22, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - As even a cursory glance at articles on Open Enterprise over the last few years will indicate, open source is a massive success in practically every market. Except, unfortunately, on the desktop (famously) and more, generally, for consumers. And as Aral Balkan points out in an important post from a few weeks ago, that's a real problem:
Open source must succeed in the consumer space because I do not want to live in a world where the only choices my future children have are ‘which closed silos do I surrender my data, privacy, and rights to?’ And the only way I see of realising that dream is to implement what DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg calls ‘frictionless privacy’ via a new open platform and products that are experience‐driven and design‐led.
Here's why those aspects matter:
- Linux popularity rises as enterprises conquer 'irrational fears', claims SUSE Aug 20, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - UK businesses have conquered their "irrational fears" of Linux and the majority now depend on it for some part of their mainstream business applications, a survey of 200 IT executives has found.
More than two decades after its first appearance, an impressive 83 percent of respondents said their organisations were using Linux in their server installations, with 40 percent as the primary server OS.
- Is Apache the Most Important Open Source Project? Aug 12, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Back in the mists of time - I'm talking about 2000 here - when free software was still viewed by many as a rather exotic idea, I published a book detailing its history up to that point. Naturally, I wrote about Apache (the Web server, not the foundation) there, since even in those early days it was already the sectoral leader. As I pointed out:
With the visible and measurable success of Apache, shown in the monthly Netcraft reports detailing how many public Web servers were using which program, people were increasingly aware not only that free software was widely used by companies, but that it was running the single most important new development in computing for decades: the World Wide Web.
As such, Apache played a crucial role in preparing the ground for the later and continuing success of GNU/Linux, and for the dramatic uptake of open source programs in the late 1990s. In one respect, Apache still leads the field among free software projects. Although the debate still rages fiercely about whether open source software such as GNU/Linux can ever hope to best Microsoft, Apache has already done it.
That is, even at the beginning of this millennium, Apache had shown that free software could beat all-comers, and offer a solution that was simply better than anything else. That was a hugely important data point for the future, and helped pave the way for other open source code to do the same.
The above passage refers to the Netcraft reports. These are still going, and the latest one came out recently. Here's what it found:
- A year of Linux desktop at Westcliff High School Aug 01, 2013
OpenSource.com - Around a year ago, a school in the southeast of England, Westcliff High School for Girls Academy (WHSG), began switching its student-facing computers to Linux, with KDE providing the desktop software. The school's Network Manager, Malcolm Moore, contacted us at the time. Now, a year on, he got in touch again to let us know how he and the students find life in a world without Windows.
- FSF passes collection plate for free Android clone Replicant Jul 29, 2013
The Register - The Free Software Foundation has launched a new fundraising program aimed at getting Replicant, the free software version of Google's Android smartphone OS, running on more devices.
Replicant – named after the androids in Ridley Scott's movie Blade Runner (but not the Philip K. Dick story upon which the film is based) – is a fork of the Android source code launched by a group of hackers in 2010, with the goal of creating an Android distribution based strictly on free software.
Android is developed as an open source project, but that doesn't make it "free" by the FSF's definition. Although some of Google's Android code is released under the Gnu General Public License (GPL), and is therefore free software, much if it is released under the Apache License – which, though an open source license, does not meet the FSF's criteria for software freedom.
- Met Office shows some open source love for space weather project Jul 29, 2013
The Inquirer - The UK's National Weather Service the Met Office is flying the open source flag, favouring it for major projects like the prediction of "space weather".
The Met Office's portfolio technical lead James Tomkins told The INQUIRER that open source software is growing in importance for the weather service. "Open source has become an increasing opportunity for us," he explained. "The government was looking for a way to try and reduce its bills and that's something we really embraced over the last couple of years."
In its most recent undertaking, the Met Office has been tasked with forecasting space weather events like the sun's solar flares and solar wind, which can have dramatic effects on infrastructure such as electricity grids, GPS and mobile communications. To help with the task, the the organisation has employed open source NoSQL database software MongoDB.
- MySQL mistake is a wake-up call on open source ownership Jun 24, 2013
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - There was a moment of panic in the open source community this week when a developer on the MariaDB fork of MySQL discovered that Oracle had quietly changed the license on all the man pages for MySQL from GPL to a restrictive proprietary license two months earlier. Prompted by the bug report, Oracle's staff quickly discovered that an error had been made in the build system and promised to immediately undo the change and restore the GPL to all of MySQL. Problem solved!
All the same, the incident was a wake-up call to many. Although there's no reason why they should, and they have promised not to do so, Oracle could change the license for MySQL, or indeed any of the open source projects they own, at any time without notice. They are able to do this since, unique among the rest of the open source community around each project, they are not themselves bound by the open source license.
- Linux continues to rule supercomputers Jun 19, 2013
ZDNet - Is that good enough for you? While Linux fans and critics obsess about Linux's failure to sweep Windows off the desktop, they're ignoring that Linux is winning everywhere else, and that when it comes to the highest of high-end computing, Linux rules.
Driving the point home, the top 10 fastest supercomputers all run Linux of one sort or the other. You have to go the way to the 44th fastest computer, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts box, which runs IBM's AIX Unix variant, to find one that doesn't run Linux.
Windows? A mere three supercomputers run Windows. The fastest of these, Magic Cube at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center, which runs Windows High Performance Computing (HPC) 2008, placed 187th in the world.
What's interesting about this latest list isn't that Linux dominates. That's become a matter of course. When it comes to supercomputing, Linux rules. It's that simple.
- Red Hat to ditch MySQL for MariaDB in RHEL 7 Jun 17, 2013
The Register - In a surprise move, Red Hat has announced that version 7 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) will ship with the MariaDB database installed by default, in place of MySQL.
The announcement was made at the company's Red Hat Summit, which wrapped up in Boston on Friday.
MariaDB is a fork of MySQL that was launched in 2009 by original MySQL coder Ulf Michael "Monty" Widenius. It's meant to be a drop-in replacement, meaning any application that runs on MySQL should run unmodified on the MariaDB server. MariaDB does have one important characteristic that MySQL doesn't share, however: MariaDB isn't owned by Oracle.
Oracle acquired MySQL as part of its 2009 purchase of Sun Microsystems and almost immediately began tightening the reins, much to the consternation of MySQL's fans. Support options were cut, and Oracle shifted to an "open core" development model in which the open source database server is sold alongside expensive, proprietary add-ons.
Widenius founded MariaDB largely as a reaction against these unwanted changes, and the project has steadily been gaining converts among the MySQL user community.
- Government backtracks on its preference for open source Jun 17, 2013
Computer Weekly - The government has quietly backtracked from its publicly declared preference for using open source over proprietary software.
The Government Digital Service (GDS) published its Service Design Manual in March, laying down mandatory standards for developing all new digital public services. The document stated: “Use open source software in preference to proprietary or closed source alternatives, in particular for operating systems, networking software, web servers, databases and programming languages.”
But Computer Weekly has learned that the statement has since been removed, diminishing the preference for open source and instead positioning open source equally alongside proprietary products under a new section titled “Level playing field”.
Government CTO [chief technology officer] Liam Maxwell said the shift reflects a change in priority to focus on creating a competitive market for software where open source and proprietary products can compete on an equal basis.
“Open source is at the heart of our commitment to deliver digital public services designed around the needs of citizens.
- Open source: Its true cost and where it's going awry by Monty Widenius May 31, 2013
ZDNet - Open-source advocate Michael 'Monty' Widenius, main author of the MySQL database, says changes in the movement over the past few years are threatening the viability of projects.
Company attitudes to contributing finance and manpower to open-source initiatives have been shifting recently, according to Widenius. Ever since his earliest involvement in the mid-1990s immediately preceding the movement's emergence, people have been prepared to pay for software they valued.
"Now the problem is that you have companies that are heavily using open source but refuse to pay anything back because they don't have to," Widenius said.
- 10 years of defending Linux's legalities: Groklaw May 29, 2013
ZDNet - Ten years ago, SCO decided to sue IBM and started a series of legal attacks on Linux. Their cases were pathetically weak, but CIOs and CFOs didn't know that. Thanks to paralegal turned legal journalist, Pamela "PJ" Jones and her Website Groklaw, executives who wanted to know what was really what with SCO's multitude of lawsuits soon learned of the FUD behind SCO's claims. SCO and its silent backer Microsoft hope for profits and slowing down Linux's corporate success would come to nothing, and SCO ended up in bankruptcy.
Now, in late May 2013, SCO's last, dying twitches continue in the courts and Groklaw continues to cover technology related intellectual property (IP) legal issues. Outside of the courtroom, Linux has become a completely mainstream technology, and Microsoft, thanks to its Android-related patent claims, actually profits greatly from Linux.
A decade after Jones launched Groklaw, Jones credited the community, rather than her own efforts, for Groklaw's success. She wrote:
- BSA Study Demonstrates Open Source's Economic Advantage May 28, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - I love the spring. Not, of course, because of the glorious weather, since we don't have any. But because it's time for the annual BSA report on piracy, which is guaranteed to provide me with hours of innocent fun as I go through finding its methodological errors and dodgy data.
Long-suffering readers of this column may recall my previous discussions of these reports and their egregious flaws. For example, back in 2010, I pointed out that the BSA's claim that reducing PC piracy by 10% would create $142 billion in new economic activity was nonsense - the money saved by piracy does not simply disappear, but is spent elsewhere. In 2011, I noted that the BSA used the misleading phrase “commercial value of software piracy”, something repeated in 2012, when the BSA spoke of the “commercial value of this shadow market of pirated software” as if that had any relevance to what was happening on the ground.
So, with a certain excitement I began reading this year's report, intriguingly entitled “Competitive Advantage: The Economic Impact of Properly Licensed Software”. Here's the summary:
- Mint 15: Today's best Linux desktop (Review) May 23, 2013
ZDNet - As the years roll-by, every new update of Linux Mint impresses me more. Other desktop operating systems, such as Microsoft's Windows 8 may abandon the tried-and-true windows, icons, menus, and pointer (WIMP) desktop metaphor. Others, such as Ubuntu with Unity try to keep some of the WIMP interface while expanding it for tablets and smartphones, but the Ubuntu-based Mint, with Cinnamon and MATE, has stayed true to the WIMP interface. As far as I'm concerned the latest version, Linux Mint 15, Olivia, is now not merely the best Linux desktop, it's the best desktop operating system of all.
- Twitter uses open source to automate security May 22, 2013
“Automation is where we see application security teams going in future,” Alex Smolen, Twitter product security team software engineer, told the Security Development Conference 2013 in San Francisco.
Apart from a desire by the team to write code that is as secure as possible, Twitter has a strong incentive for getting security right since the US Federal Trade Commission ordered the micro-blogging service to put in place an effective information security policy for 20 years.
- Why We Need Open Source: Three Cautionary Tales May 22, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - Open Enterprise mostly writes about "obvious" applications of open source - situations where money can be saved, or control regained, by shifting from proprietary to open code. That battle is more or less won: free software is widely recognised as inherently superior in practically all situations, as its rapid uptake across many markets demonstrates. But there are also some circumstances where it may not be so obvious that open source is the solution, because it's not always clear what the problem is.
For example, in the field of economics, there is a well-known paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff entitled, "Growth in a Time of Debt." The main result is that "median growth rates for countries with public debt over 90 percent of GDP are roughly one percent lower than otherwise; average (mean) growth rates are several percent lower." Needless to say, this has been seized upon and widely cited by those in favour of austerity.
However, as a blog post on the Roosevelt Institute from a few weeks back explained:
- Red Hat CEO Whitehurst on innovation, OpenStack, Hadoop May 20, 2013
ZDNet - As computing systems become commoditized, the "profit pools are going to evaporate" for enterprise software vendors, said Whitehurst.
Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst argued that enterprise software vendors are at an inflection point where they'll adapt or falter, noted OpenStack is keeper but needs enterprise support and Hadoop has become a strong open source project that's becoming commercially fragmented.
I caught up with Whitehurst, who has led Red Hat since December 2007 after being chief operating officer at Delta Airlines, a few weeks ago in San Francisco. Here's a look at the highlights:
- Android is a mess and needs sprucing up, admits chief May 15, 2013
The Register - Android looks unstoppable, and it's a mess. The first fact tends to eclipse the second observation, but Android's new supremo diplomatically acknowledges as much in an interview.
"Here’s the challenge: without changing the open nature of Android, how do we help improve the whole world’s end-user experience?" Chrome chief Sundar Pichai told Official Google Hagiographer™ Steve Levy.
You may wonder what the head of Chrome OS is doing lording it over the Android nation. Since the departure of Andy Rubin, who founded the Android startup and led development at Google, Android is part of Pichai's Chrome empire.
- International Space Station switches from Windows to Linux, for improved reliability May 10, 2013
ExtremeTech - The United Space Alliance, which manages the computers aboard the International Space Station in association with NASA, has announced that the Windows XP computers aboard the ISS have been switched to Linux. “We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable.”
- Spain's Extremadura region switches 40,000 PCs to Linux and open source software May 02, 2013
The Inquirer - The Spanish region of Extremadura has announced that it will switch 40,000 government PCs to open source software.
The government of Extremadura has worked out what many already know, that open source software can deliver significant cost savings over using proprietory software. The region's government has decided to switch 40,000 PCs to open source software, including a customised Linux distribution called Sysgobex.
According to the Extremadura government's calculations, the switch to Linux and open source software will save it €30m a year, an amount that should come in particularly handy given Spain's economic challenges. The government has already migrated 150 PCs to open source software in various ministries, including the department for Development, Culture and Employment.
- Open source should be used to commoditise government IT, says Cabinet Office's Tariq Rashid Apr 26, 2013
Public Technology - Open source technology should be used to help commoditise government IT to move from cost-heavy bespoke systems to the more competitive end of the market, Tariq Rashid, IT Reform, Cabinet Office has said.
He also warned that by using customised IT solutions, or trying to aggregate demand to drive discounts, government departments were losing their power as a customer and missing out on the fierce dynamics of the commodity market.
Rashid made his comments while speaking at the Open Gov Summit 2013 in London today, where he also reiterated the Cabinet Office's current approach to IT - specifically, the drive towards user need, agile development and sustained value.
He did however, elaborate further on the sustained value and how the government needs to change its approach to achieve it.
"If you can sustain competitive tension beyond the point of purchase, that's the only thing that's going to give you long term value," he said.
"We've been putting too much effort into trying to extract effort from the market, by standardising services, approaching suppliers and asking for discount in the promise of users."
The result has been technical dependencies and the wrong approach to the market.
- Smug Red Hat buoyed by UK gov's open-source three-line-whip Apr 26, 2013
The Register - The UK government's love affair with open-source technology has given software house Red Hat a shot in the arm, we're told.
The company boasted that its government and system integrator business has grown in the "high double-digit rates" over the last three years. Red Hat, which offers various flavours of the open-source operating system Linux, said subscriptions for its software make up the majority of its revenue from Whitehall.
"The Cabinet Office is helping our business," Phil Andrews, the Hat's vice-president for northern and eastern Europe, said on Wednesday.
Andrews, who spoke during a roundtable chat in London, would not reveal any sales figures. But he reckoned Linux is infiltrating Blighty's bureaucracy because it is "value for money" against closed-source rivals.
It's understood government IT projects that explore only closed and proprietary software are denied formal approval and funding; systems that don't at least consider open-source software are therefore kicked back to the drawing board.
- Open Source and the UK Government Apr 22, 2013
Wunderkraut - Tariq Rashid is the Open Source Policy Lead for the UK Government. At the 'Open Source, Open Standards' public sector conference, he spoke about the quest to better meet user needs, while providing better value.
Tariq begins by saying that government has been spending too much on IT, and government IT has a reputation for being bad — not serving users well. Today he's not going to speak much about open source itself, instead he's going to give context to how open source fits into real world in the public sector.
- The Open Source Initiative reaches out to Washington DC Apr 16, 2013
The H Open - The Open Source Initiative (OSI) has been reforming itself into a more outward-facing organisation and has now taken another step in that process by announcing that it will be hosting a "small open source license clinic" at the Library of Congress, Washington DC, in May. The event is designed to bring together individuals, organisations and government agencies to help all better understand the nature of open source licences. Discussions will also look at identifying problems unique to government. Although a small event, it is the first of what will, hopefully, be many, as the OSI pursues its "non-profit educational mission".
- ARM says its chips and Linux will sweep the industry Apr 09, 2013
The Inquirer - Chip designer ARM has said that vendors are looking to standardise on both one chip architecture and a single operating system such as Linux across their product lines.
With many of ARM's licensees preparing to make a big splash in the server market, the firm claimed its architecture is the only one that scales from smartphones all the way up to servers. Lakshmi Mandyam, ARM director of Server Systems and Ecosystems told The INQUIRER that the ability to stick with one chip vendor and run the same operating system throughout its product stack is something "people find very interesting".
ARM expects most of its servers to end up powering open source software stacks, which strongly suggests Linux as the underlying operating system, especially since FreeBSD's ARM port is seemingly in a state of flux. According to Mandyam, companies are increasingly interested in concentrating on a single processor and software stack, saying that vertical integration - the term given to keeping everything in-house - is once again becoming fashionable.
- Mozilla and the Open Source Browser Bonanza Apr 06, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Even if you don't remember the birth of Mozilla 15 years ago, you are certainly benefitting from its consequences. For, back then, the company that invented the Web as a mass medium, Netscape, was in its death throes, and looked likely to take Web browser choice with it.
Netscape had begun life as an innovative startup that changed not only how people used the Web, but also how people sold software - essentially giving away its Netscape Navigator browser for free, and making money be selling associated products. Then it fell victim to Microsoft's belated recognition that the Internet was the future, and not just something for academics, as a senior Microsoft had assured me shortly before (he, of course, wanted people to use Microsoft's proprietary network, MSN.) That was partly because Microsoft played its usual games, building on its strength on the desktop, and its established relationships with third-party vendors of software and services.
In the famous 1998 antitrust action, this dominance on the desktop was found to be monopolistic, and Microsoft's actions to defend that monopoly, including bundling its Internet Explorer browser with Windows, were considered an abuse of that monopoly. A change of President in the US meant that Microsoft got off with little more than a slap on the wrist, but by then Netscape was no longer any kind of threat.
- LibreOffice on every desk: A 10-step plan Apr 02, 2013
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - Document Foundation has good advice for companies migrating to open, interoperable document formats and open source tools.
As the experience of the City of Freiburg in Germany showed, it's not enough to decide to use open source software -- you need a workable migration plan too. Freiburg's effort seems to have failed because of a lack of investment in the migration and a lack of determination to complete it. As part of the celebration of Document Freedom Day this week, the nonprofit Document Foundation released a white paper with advice on how to perform a migration and standardize on Open Document Format (ODF).
The report, titled "Migrating to LibreOffice to promote software and document freedom," includes a strong focus on acting purposefully. It's important to "make users aware of the rationale and objectives of the migration project, so that it is not perceived as a mere solution to budget-related issues." Why? Because under those circumstances the inevitable challenges that arise from a migration will be seen as a cost of economizing rather than as mitigated by new strengths.
- BBC opens up TV Application Layer to industry Mar 28, 2013
Digital Europe - The BBC has made its open source TV Application Layer available to the industry at large in order to make the development of connected TV applications for HTML-based devices easier.
Peter Lasko, technical product manager for BBC future media TV and mobile platforms, said in a blog post that the public broadcaster is making the Application Layer available via open source repository GitHub. He said the open source code would allow other parties to contribute to the development of the TV Application Layer and that sharing it should “make building applications on TV easier for others, helping to drive the uptake of this nascent technology”.
- Worried your cloud service will die? Get open source insurance Mar 25, 2013
InfoWorld - By killing Reader, Google may have done us a favor, focusing attention on the power of open standards and open source in protecting us against the whims of service providers.
A collective moan arose from users following Google's inexplicable announcement that it plans to shutter its popular and widely used Google Reader service in July. No suprise that when Google launched another service, a note-taking add-on to Google Drive called Keep, many were skeptical about using it. As Om Malik said, "What if I spend months using the app, and then Google decides it doesn't meet some arbitrary objective?"
This is a specific example of the general problem of service providers deciding to change direction and leaving customers high and dry. It's a problem open source and open standards address well, and while we're watching Google's internal politics mess with the online happiness of millions, it's good to be reminded we have alternatives.
- China develops national open-source operating system Mar 25, 2013
The Telegraph -The Chinese government is working with the software company Canonical, which is behind the open-source Ubuntu operating system (OS).
The collaboration is expected to produce a system similar to Ubuntu but tailored for the Chinese user.
The first version of Ubuntu Kylin, as it is being called, is due to be launched next month and is intended for desktop and laptop computers.
It will differ from the standard Ubuntu system in its use of Chinese characters and in the way it uses Chinese date conventions. It will also include weather indicators and integration of various Chinese sites such as Baidu maps, the Taobao shopping service.
The move is an attempt to stop China being reliant on Western software and to get more Chinese people the opportunity to modify computer coding themselves.
- Open source, Web-based office suite takes on Google Docs, LibreOffice Mar 21, 2013
ArsTechnica - The productivity software market has several recent success stories, despite the continued dominance of Microsoft Office. Google Docs built up a huge user base by providing a Web-based alternative to Microsoft. And LibreOffice, a descendant of OpenOffice, is providing a strong challenge on the desktop side.
Now there is an office suite that combines these browser-based and open source approaches into one. It's called OX Documents, and it comes courtesy of Open-Xchange, a company that previously built an alternative to the Microsoft Exchange e-mail server. OX Documents is in the early stages of development, with only a demo version of its word processor, OX Text, available beginning today.
A usable version of OX Text is scheduled to be released next month, with spreadsheet and presentation software coming later this year. OX Text will also be released in early April under the GNU General Public License 2 and Creative Commons. Open-Xchange will make money by selling a supported version to businesses.
- Government mandates 'preference' for open source Mar 16, 2013
In digital public services, open source software is clearly the way forward
Liam Maxwell, government CTO
Computer Weekly - The government has, for the first time, mandated a preference for using open source software for future developments.
The new Government Service Design Manual, released as a beta version on 14 March and effective from April, lays out the standards that must be used for all new digital public services developed across Whitehall.
In a section titled “When to use open source”, the manual says: “Use open source software in preference to proprietary or closed source alternatives, in particular for operating systems, networking software, web servers, databases and programming languages.”
Government IT reformers in the Cabinet Office have worked to introduce a level playing field for open source against proprietary software products, which was embodied in the open standards principles published in November last year.
But this is the first time that government IT policy has gone as far as expressing a formal preference to use open source.
The design manual says that proprietary products must only be used in “rare” circumstances.
- Swiss Canton's use of open source document management system renews dispute Mar 12, 2013
Joinup - The Swiss Canton of Bern has decided to switch to Open Justitia, a management system for legal documents, developed as open source by the country's Federal Court. The canton procured support for the installing and maintaining the software from a Swiss IT service provider. One competitor disputes the contract. The firm, whose offer of its own proprietary alternative was turned down, is rallying for political support.
- Mark Shuttleworth: Serious people are saying Ubuntu is better than Windows 8 on tablets Mar 04, 2013
ZDNet - ZDNet met with Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, at Mobile World Congress to talk about Ubuntu across tablets, smartphones and more.
Ubuntu OS on the desktop is becoming an increasingly recognisable brand and has a long heritage in the open source community, but rather than confine itself to the one platform, Canonical set out on the path to use the same core kernel and deliver the same platform across smartphones, tablets, the desktop and TVs.
Clearly not one to turn down a challenge, Shuttleworth was one of the first space tourists, 2013 has gotten off to a flying start for the ambitious South African entrepreneur and has already seen the unveiling of the platform on smartphones and tablets.
- Ubuntu unveils Linux tablet Feb 21, 2013
The Telegraph - The company is developing a united phone, computer, TV and tablet operating system that it hopes will provide a more intuitive interface than that currently offered by Google’s Android.
It announced a mobile phone interface using the open-source operating system in January, and has since secured a partner to make compatible silicon chips. It claims it will launch to consumers in October. Devices aimed at both the premium and budgets ends of the market will be available.
Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu and Canonical, said that “Android is a very clever interface if you’re clever”, but claimed Ubuntu had been praised by design experts and would offer a friendlier and more secure way of using computers that ran across a range of devices. He added that although Android is also an open-source operating system, many of its key features are in fact proprietary.
- Why it's time to stop using open source licences Feb 15, 2013
The H Open - Glyn Moody - Free software is built on a paradox. In order to give freedom to users, free software licences use something that takes away freedom – copyright, which is an intellectual monopoly based on limiting people's freedom to share, not enlarging it. That was a brilliant hack when Richard Stallman first came up with it in 1985, with the GNU Emacs General Public Licence, but maybe now it's time to move on.
There are signs of that happening already. Eighteen months ago, people started noting the decline of copyleft licences in favour of more "permissive" ones like Apache and BSD. More recently, the rise of GitHub has attracted attention, and the fact that increasingly people have stopped specifying licences there (which is somewhat problematic).
I don't think this declining use of copyleft licences is a sign of failure – on the contrary. As I wrote in my previous column, free software has essentially won, taking over most key computing sectors. Similarly, the move to "permissive" licences has only been possible because of the success of copyleft: the ideas behind collaborative creation and contributing back to a project are now so pervasive that we don't require "strong" copyleft licences to enforce them – it's part of coders' mental DNA. As Ian Skerrett put it in 2011:
- Apache OpenOffice Valued at £13m Per Day Feb 15, 2013
ASF officials said Apache OpenOffice has averaged 131,455 downloads per day since its 3.4 release last May. That represents an average value to the public of $21 million per day or $7.61 billion (£4.9bn) per year, ASF said.
- LibreOffice 4.0 ships with new features, better looks Feb 11, 2013
The Register - The Document Foundation has announced LibreOffice 4.0, the latest version of the free software competitor to Microsoft Office that spun off from the OpenOffice.org effort in 2010, describing it as nothing less than "the free office suite the community has been dreaming of since 2001."
"LibreOffice 4.0 is the first release that reflects the objectives set by the community at the time of the announcement, in September 2010: a cleaner and leaner code base, an improved set of features, better interoperability, and a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem," the Document Foundation's Italo Vignoli wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.
Among other improvements, version 4.0 is more compatible with Microsoft's Rich Text Format (RTF) and DOCX file formats – the latter being the XML-based Word document format first introduced in Office 2007.
LibreOffice Writer can now import ink annotations from both formats, in addition to supporting a number of new DOCX features, such as floating tables and inline comments.
- No, Microsoft, open source software really is cheaper, insists Munich Feb 08, 2013
ZDNet - The city of Munich has hit back at Microsoft in a row over whether the city's plan to use open-source software is cheaper than using Microsoft's products.
The city is currently migrating 13,000 computers from Windows NT 4 and Microsoft Office 97 to a custom build of Ubuntu and OpenOffice as part of its 'LiMux' project. A further 2,000 computers will stay on Windows but are being switched to OpenOffice. The move began in 2004 and will be completed in the autumn of this year.
Last year Munich released figures that it said demonstrated the project would save the authority more than €10m by sidestepping the need to license Windows 7 and newer versions of Microsoft Office, as well as associated hardware upgrades.
In total the LiMux project would cost €23m, compared to the €34m the authority estimated it would have cost to stick with Windows and MS Office.
Munich's figures were challenged in a study produced by HP for Microsoft, which claimed the LiMux project would cost €60.6m, considerably more than claimed by the authority. In comparison, the report claimed, migrating to Windows XP and Microsoft Office would have cost only €17m.
- When open-source eats itself, we win Feb 07, 2013
The Register - Matt Asay - Open ... and Shut For years the headlines have been about open source cannibalising proprietary software. But what happens when open source starts to cannibalise itself?
In some markets, open source rules the roost. For example, Drupal, Joomla, my old company Alfresco and other open-source content management systems regularly duke it out for supremacy, depending on the workload. In application servers, JBoss and Tomcat spar. In cloud, Cloudstack, Eucalyptus, OpenStack, and others battle.
But web servers? That's a market that Apache won ages ago, with no open-source competition to speak of.
That is, until recently.
- Levelling the playing field: open source in the public sector Feb 06, 2013
Computing - The government claims to be levelling the playing field for open source technology. It wants local and central government departments to open source software an equally viable alternative to more traditional proprietary solutions.
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office emphasised these claims, when Computing asked about the progress of this levelling activity.
“Open source is at the heart of our commitment to deliver digital public services designed around the needs of citizens,” said the spokesman.
- Software innovation will blast monolithic hardware Feb 04, 2013
Computer Weekly - The forward "predictions for 2013" pre-Christmas honeymoon is now thankfully over. Time enough then... for a serious look at software futures.
The so called "explosive amount of structured and unstructured data" is, as we know, having a profound impact upon cloud, middleware, storage and virtualisation technologies.
But where are the biggest ripples being felt?
Is it inside the hardware universe or the software universe?
Red Hat's Paul Cormier is president of products and technologies. He asserts that open source software will now, in the immediate future, start to drive proprietary storage hardware and software stacks.
So what is he talking about?
- What's the next big platform for Linux? Feb 04, 2013
The H Open - Glyn Moody wonders whether the car – a currently undeveloped yet important platform with great potential – can provide the inspiration for the next generation of Linux coders.
Linux has a problem: it's running out of platforms to conquer. It's already the top operating system for smartphones and supercomputers, and is widely used in embedded and industrial systems. It's true the Year of the GNU/Linux desktop continues to be five years in the future, but the rise of tablets makes up for that in part.
That seems to suggest that there are no major, completely new areas where young Linux hackers can make their mark: instead, they seem doomed to mopping up minor problems left behind by the people who were fortunate enough to get to a platform first. To avoid disillusionment of the next generation of top coders, Linux desperately needs to colonise a major new product platform – one that is simultaneously hugely important and yet without any established digital leaders.
How about the car?
- Danish municipalities using open source to innovate and collaborate Feb 04, 2013
OpenSource.com - Danish municipalities are increasingly using free and open source software for collaboration and innovation of ICT solutions. More than 10% of the country's municipalities last year joined the newly founded Open Website Community OS2. The group has already delivered a Drupal-based municipal content management system (OS2Web) as well as an application offering paperless meetings (OS2dagsorden).
- Microsoft incorporates open-source Git for development tools Feb 04, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - Once vehemently opposed to open-source software, Microsoft has warmed to the development model over the years and will now take the unusual step of incorporating an open-source program developed by Linus Torvalds into its own development tools.
Microsoft is integrating the widely used Git, a distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) system, into its Visual Studio IDE (integrated developer environment) and Team Foundation Server (TFS), two of the company's main tools for enterprise developers.
"TFS is a very popular tool in the enterprise, and Git has grown up in the open-source community," said Brian Harry, a Microsoft technical fellow and the TFS product unit manager. "By embracing Git, we want to bridge that gap, so it can be a great tool for both the open-source community and for the enterprise."
- The meaning of the 4.0 Jan 29, 2013
Moved by Freedom - Powered by Standards - The Document Foundation will be releasing LibreOffice 4.0 in the beginning of February. It is a big and important release for us, and a major symbolic milestone. We have received questions and comments, however, that were basically about our reasons to change the major number, from the 3.x to the 4.x . I believe it’s important to explain why we are doing this, and what the 4.0 release is all about.
- Obama calls 'National Day of Civic Hacking' Jan 25, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - It's not unusual for free and open source software projects to enlist the help of their fans and supporters in debugging and other efforts to make the software better.
What's less common is for major national governments to do the same thing.
Sure enough, though, the White House Office of Science Technology and Policy on Tuesday announced the National Day of Civic Hacking on June 1 and 2, calling it "an opportunity for software developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to unleash their can-do American spirit by collaboratively harnessing publicly-released data and code to create innovative solutions for problems that affect Americans."
- German government should make its software available as open source, committee advises Jan 18, 2013
PCAdvisor - A government committee recommends a change in German law to accommodate software.
Germany should change a law to enable public administrations to make their software available as free and open source, a German parliamentary committee has advised.
German public administrations currently are not allowed to give away goods, including software, said Jimmy Schulz, a member of Parliament and chairman of the Interoperability, Standards and Free Software Project Group in an email Thursday. The current law prohibits governments from being part of the development process in the free software community, he said.
"This is a clear disadvantage because it cuts off all benefits obtained from free software, such as being cost-efficient and state-of-the-art," he said.
Besides a recommendation that the government should explore whether the law can be changed for software, the group also called for the use of open standards in order to make sure that everybody can have access to important information, Schulz said. "We also called for public administrations in general to make sure that new software is created as platform independent as possible," he added.
- Open source clouds gather over Microsoft Jan 14, 2013
This programmer resource is hoped to allow developers to construct, deploy and share Linux configurations and create custom-made open source stacks.
Developers can also use this community-driven catalogue of open source virtual machine images for Windows Azure to collaborate and build new architectures.
VM Depot features preconfigured operating systems, applications and development stacks.
Microsoft's intention here is to push more open-source applications forward (running on Linux) as guest inhabitants on the Azure cloud service.
- The Norwegian Ministry of Finance may open source cash registers to prevent tax fraud Jan 14, 2013
TNW - The Norwegian Ministry of Finance wants all the cash registers in its country tossed, and replaced with new machines, this time with code that it can verify. Norway is not the largest of countries, but this move would result in the installation of as many 90,000 replacement registers.
The Ministry of Finance wishes to ensure that no fraud is occurring, and therefore that no tax revenues are going uncollected. It has posited a number of new rules that, if implemented would certainly cut down on any potential fraud, including required receipt printing, and the inability to retroactively change entries. One proposed new rule however has raised eyebrows: the code that the registers run on must be open source.
The tingling you feel is the parallel between this story and the system of closed-system voting machines used in the United States, if you were curious.
- Government reaffirms commitment to open source technology Jan 09, 2013
V3 - The government has used the publication of its mid-term review on Monday to reaffirm its intention to level the playing field for open source vendors competing for public sector contracts.
The mid-term review contained a number of promises relating to the government's IT strategy, although few were surprising.
However, the government's recommitment to open government procurement, particularly to open source vendors, will be good news for some.
"We will continue to open up government procurement, create a level playing field for open-source software and split large ICT projects into smaller components," said the review.
- Top Ten FOSS Legal Developments in 2012 Jan 07, 2013
OpenSource Delivers - The year 2012 had many important FOSS legal developments which reflects the continued increase in FOSS use. During a recent webinar with Black Duck, we noted that FOSS projects have increased from 600,000 in 2010 to 900,000 by December 2012. In addition, a Dr. Dobbs’ survey in the third quarter of 2012 stated that more than 90% of developers are using FOSS in two of the most rapidly growing areas, cloud computing and mobile computing.
Continuing the tradition of looking back over top ten legal developments in FOSS, my selection of the top ten issues for 2012 are as follows:
- European Commission's Low Attack on Open Source Jan 07, 2013
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - If ACTA was the biggest global story of 2012, more locally there's no doubt that the UK government's consultation on open standards was the key event. As readers will remember, this was the final stage in a long-running saga with many twists and turns, mostly brought about by some uncricket-like behaviour by proprietary software companies who dread a truly level playing-field for government software procurement.
Justice prevailed in that particular battle, with open standards being defined as those with any claimed patents being made available on a royalty-free basis. But of course these things are never that simple. While the UK has seen the light, the EU has actually gone backwards on open standards in recent times.
Again, as long-suffering readers may recall, the original European Interoperability Framework also required royalty-free licensing, but what was doubtless a pretty intense wave of lobbying in Brussels overturned that, and EIF v2 ended up pushing FRAND, which effectively locks out open source - the whole point of the exercise.
Shamefully, some parts of the European Commission are still attacking open source, as I revealed a couple of months ago when Simon Phipps spotted a strange little conference with the giveaway title of "Implementing FRAND standards in Open Source: Business as usual or mission impossible?"
- Behind Bern's Open Source Policy Dec 21, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Simon Phipps - It's taken a strong political decision to overcome the lock-in inertia of ICT procurement in Bern. Will the policy succeed?The city council of Bern, Switzerland's federal capital, decided this month to tell its ICT department that it should use open source wherever possible. This comes at a time when two German cities - Munich and Freiburg - have announced very different outcomes from similar decisions. To understand more about this decision I spoke with Matthias Stuermer, an elected member of the city council who has played a key role in the decision.Stuermer is an expert when it comes to enterprise open source. Advising clients on the subject is part of his day job at Ernst and Young. He was elected to Bern's city council in 2008 as a deputy (able to stand in for absences of full members), joined as a full member in 2011 when a vacancy arose and has recently be re-elected as a full member. He has been advocating a move to an open source strategy for the city since being first elected.The council has been moving towards favouring open source for some time, but the desire was not matched by the city's ICT department. They continued to prefer proprietary systems, finding it easier to live with the lock-in than to challenge it. The matter came to a head in 2011 when the city set out to procure new enterprise agreements from Microsoft.
- IBM taps Red Hat for cut-throat priced Linux on big supers Dec 20, 2012
The Register - Big Blue is going to Red Hat for a Linux environment for its largest supercomputers, and it is mothballing its own LoadLeveler workload manager for x86 clusters in favor of the Platform LSF control freak that it acquired a little more than a year ago.
It is no surprise that IBM has chosen Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 as the Linux of choice for its massively parallel BlueGene/Q supercomputers and the Power 775 behemoth that was to be the "Blue Waters" machine at the University of Illinois and that is now being positioned as a big data muncher. (Cray eventually got the Blue Waters contract.)
- The future impact of open source on our information infrastructure Dec 18, 2012
Computer Weekly - Much of what we read relating to the future impact of open source, or cloud computing, or any significant 'still-nascent' technology paradigm tends to be focused on the user/consumer end.
With more "BYOD trends will impact our future use of cloud" headlines that many readers can stomach, the (arguably) more analytical approach just now is most productively taken by looking at the underlying information infrastructure level.
- Inside outsourcing interview: Banks moving to open source software and need control Dec 18, 2012
Computer Weekly - Today I interviewed Jonathan Charley, who is a partner in financial services at IT and business consultancy Bearingpoint. He was a CIO at Lloyds Bank previously.
I asked him what trends he was seeing in the banking sector. I found what he is seeing around the use of open source software very interesting. He said the company's CIO advisory is supporting banks on their use of open source software.
There is a problem. "Increasingly people are using open source software but they don't necessarily know how much they are using, whether they have paid for a license and whether they are using it effectively."
- Dell commits to open-source software for its future clouds Dec 13, 2012
ZDNet - Dell will use the OpenStack cloud management and automation software for its public and private cloud products, the company has announced, in a sign of increasing support for the open-source project.
The company said its upcoming public and private cloud products will be built around OpenStack, a package of software for running clouds that has received broad backing from the technology industry from companies such as HP, Cisco, IBM, Red Hat and Intel.
"Dell is increasing its commitment to OpenStack as its open-source cloud platform of choice for public and private cloud," Dell said in a statement on Wednesday.
- Five out of six developers now using or deploying open source Dec 10, 2012
ZDNet - Five out of six developers today use or have used open source tools or deployed open source software in their projects, a recent Forrester Research study revealed.
But in which software categories? The top five, according to the recent survey, are operating systems, web servers, relational database management systems, IDEs and software configuration management tools.
The vast majority -- 56 percent -- are using open source operating systems such as Linux in their development or deployment projects, according to the survey of almost 500 developers in a third quarter of this year
- Comment: OpenOffice's Tale of Two Cities Dec 04, 2012
The H Open - Failure in Freiburg, success in Munich. Experiences with open source software in the public sector couldn't be more different. If there's a lesson to be drawn from this, it's "go the whole hog or not at all".
At first sight it looks pretty straightforward – a licence for Microsoft Office Professional 2010 costs just under €400. Add that up over 10,000 workplaces (as is the case in Munich's city administration) and it comes to more than €4 million. For open source alternatives OpenOffice and LibreOffice, by contrast, licensing costs are zero, so you've saved at least €4 million. In view of the state of public finances, you'd think that would be the end of the discussion.
But it's not. Companies and other organisations that buy large numbers of licences do, of course, enjoy significantly lower prices, benefiting from Microsoft's volume licensing programme. Specific figures are hard to come by, but if you're paying three figure prices for five figure volumes of Microsoft Office, you probably need to work on your negotiating skills. Licensing costs also need to be seen in relation to overall costs for each workplace. If an administrator earns €25 per hour, just a few hours of lost productivity per year can quickly negate any savings on licensing costs.
- Forrester: open source project explosion driving a "golden era" in app dev Nov 29, 2012
ZDNet - An explosion in the number of open source technologies and projects is driving the new paradigm of application development in the mobile, cloud and big data era.
Of course, one would have to live under a rock not to notice the huge "app" industry around smartphones and tablets.
But Android is not the only open source game in town driving the innovation. jQuery, Phonegap, Hadoop, Sencha , Apache Cordova, dojo, Ehcache, Riak, Munin and OpenStack are among the many key open source technologies driving the new wave of innovation across the consumer space and enterprise markets, according to Forrester Research.
- Munich Shows How Open Source Saves Big Money Nov 28, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Recently I've written about several moves towards mandating openness in various ways - in the UK, Spain and Portugal. That's all well and good, but what people want to know is whether moving to open solutions brings benefits - in particular, whether it saves money. Fortunately, we have a long-running experiment being carried out by the city of Munich that provides us with some hard data.
According to the calculation, Windows with Microsoft Office would so far have incurred about €11.6 million (£9.3 million) in operating-system-related costs. Microsoft Office and its upgrades would have cost €4.2 million (£3.3 million), and the Windows system about €2.6 million (£2.1 million). The LiMux project allowed a further €5 million (£4 million) for hardware upgrades in connection with the Windows 7 system upgrade. Application migration costs were estimated to be around €55,000 (£44,000). If the city council had chosen Windows but used OpenOffice, the estimated cost would have been about two thirds, or €7.4 million (£5.9 million).
That compares with just £218,000 that has been spent on the free software-based solution using the city's own LiMux distro. As well as zero costs for software upgrades, the open source approach also saved money because it was not necessary to upgrade hardware, unlike for Windows - something that is worth remembering.
Against that background, the decision of the city of Freiburg to move back to Microsoft Office, discussed recently, seems particularly perverse. Perhaps they should have asked their colleagues in Munich for a little advice first.
- Beware these open source lock-in schemes Nov 28, 2012
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - Some vendors want you to think you're benefiting from open source when you're not. Keep an eye out for potential traps.
When the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was formed in 1998, one of the important objectives of those involved was to create a phrase that can be used to represent all the values of software freedom easily in everyday speech. The phrase "open source" was intended to become a strong, respected brand representing the values of software developers across the software freedom communities. The OSI website says:
Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.
- Linux brings over €10 million savings for Munich Nov 26, 2012
The H Open - Over €10 million (approximately £8 million or $12.8 million) has been saved by the city of Munich, thanks to its development and use of the city's own Linux platform. The calculation of savings follows a question by the city council's independent Free Voters (Freie Wähler) group, which led to Munich's municipal LiMux project presenting a comparative budget calculation at the meeting of the city council's IT committee on Wednesday. The calculation compares the current overall cost of the LiMux migration with that of two technologically equivalent Windows scenarios: Windows with Microsoft Office and Windows with OpenOffice. Reportedly, savings amount to over €10 million.
- Open source Java for Android? Don't bet on it Nov 22, 2012
TechWorld - Industry observers aren't optimistic, despite chatter about the possibility in OpenJDK circles.
Google's Android mobile software platform, as we know, has caused quite a conflict with Oracle, given Oracle's failed lawsuit that claimed Java-like Android infringed on Java patents and copyrights. But now, might Oracle and Google, or even just one of them, decide to formally develop an open source implementation of Java especially for Android?
- Enterprise Linux consolidation and optimization on IBM System z Nov 21, 2012
ZDNet - That Linux has come a long way in the past 15 years is undeniable. The opportunity exists to consolidate workloads onto more powerful systems, to reduce operational costs, and to improve scalability, availability and reliability...
- Control vs. influence: Which way for open source? Nov 19, 2012
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - Organizations ferociously attempting to enforce controls around copyrights may end up alienating both users and developers in the process.
Apparently, all that's stopping the music industry from returning to its former glory is its failure to punish people who download music without paying for it. But if that's the case, why did music sales in Japan fall when downloaders of unlicensed content were slammed with draconian penalties?
The same reverse effect applies to open source. Why do open source projects with a vendor tightly controlling the code usually fail to grow? Why do open source projects with relaxed licenses still get plenty of code contributions, though the license does not require them?
- Android really is the new Windows Nov 15, 2012
ZDNet - The figures don't lie: Android not only has almost three-quarters of global mobile device sales, but it's outselling PCs too. So the Linux-based OS is the new Windows, not only due to its ubiquity, but because it represents a key aspect of Windows that Microsoft is throwing away: openness.
Analyst figures can be a dry affair, but sometimes they're so stark that they make the future a bit clearer. That's the case with the mobile sales numbers that came out of Gartner yesterday.
It seems that Android really is the new Windows. By extension, that means Linux — on which Android is based — is currently whipping ten shades out of Microsoft and indeed everyone else. How times change.
- Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin on the New Lock-in Nov 12, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Last year, I interviewed the head of the Linux Foundation, Jim Zemlin, about his own career, and about his organisation. That interview took place at the first European LinuxCon, which was held in Prague. This year, it took place in Barcelona, and I took the opportunity to catch up with Zemlin on what had happened in the intervening time (disclosure: the Linux Foundation paid for my travelling and accommodation while I was there.)
It seems it has been a good year for the Foundation, with a number of major companies joining up for the first time, or upgrading their membership. Zemlin says that income as a result has gone up by "double digit percentages".
The involvement of one company in particular has caused a few raised eyebrows. Microsoft's appearance as a "gold sponsor" of the European meeting has led some to suggest that the Linux Foundation had sold out by allowing Microsoft to speak at one session. But Zemlin says that the speaking session did not come as part of the sponsorship deal:
"There ain't an event sponsorship that they can pay us that's big enough for us to compromise principles. Part of our organisation's strength is the legitimacy that we've earned over a decade servicing this community in a humble, helpful way. We're not going to give that for a two-bit events sponsorship."
- Mozilla director: We'll make content more webby Nov 12, 2012
Computer Weekly - Holiday season is just around the corner, but this week it's festival season.
To be more accurate, it's time for the Mozilla Festival. A gathering of web-centric happy geeks that features peer learning time as well as hands on coding and tool experience sessions, plus a chance to hear from executive director of the Mozilla Foundation himself Mr Mark Surman.
The Computer Weekly Open Source Insider team attended an informal gathering held in Mozilla's London HQ last night to speak to Surman personally and listen to his commitment to the open web and digital web literacy for all.
Mozilla has research up its colourful sleeves which contends that among a sample of British children aged 8-15, a total of 67% say they are interested in learning how to code, but only a disappointing 3% actually know how to.
- The Cloud made of Penguins: Open source goes 'industrial scale' Nov 06, 2012
The Register - Thanks to projects like OpenStack and the mighty operation that is Amazon’s EC2, open source and Linux are quickly becoming the building blocks of “cloud” computing.
OpenStack, which started life in 2010, releases compute, storage, networking and other components under an Apache licence, and it is being adopted by huge companies such as telecom giant NTT in Japan and IT behemoth Hewlett-Packard in its fledgling cloud.
Amazon EC2 runs tens of thousands of Linux servers, providing – among other things – storage, with 762 billion objects housed last year following growth of 200 per cent. 2012 will see the number of objects grow again.
Open-source clouds - and we’re talking platform and infrastructure-as-a-service rather than hosted email or collaboration – currently have closed-source efforts such as Microsoft’s Windows Azure encircled and outnumbered.
- Open Source Outlook in UK Government still Cloudy? Nov 01, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - I've been noting "hopeful" moves towards the wider use of open source by the UK government for so long that I daren't do it again. But the following is certainly worth mentioning:
Sirius, the UK's Flagship Open Source company, has confirmed that it has been awarded a place on the G-Cloud Framework and will be making the full range of Open Source products available through the CloudStore.
The UK Government has been working to make the purchasing of public sector ICT as simple and transparent as possible. All services listed on the CloudStore are part of the G-Cloud framework and so immediately available for the public sector to procure and use. For buyers this means:
No need to go through the time and expense of issuing OJEUs
Assurance that every product and service in the catalogue as been accredited to Government standards
Suppliers approved by Government as agile, efficient and offering value for money
Find low cost and high quality solutions simply
That's clearly good news, not least for Sirius - and deservedly so, given the amount of work the company has done trying to get the UK government to use open source more widely. But given my disappointments in the past, I'll reserve judgement until it's clear whether this latest announcement actually changes anything, and whether people in UK government will now give open source a fair chance, at least in the world of cloud computing.
- Open source gets look in as UK government rolls out G-Cloud Oct 31, 2012
The H Open - Open source companies have managed to get on board the UK Government's G-Cloud supplier framework, which enables public sector bodies to access and buy services from a range of listed suppliers. The idea of the G-Cloud is to make it less complex for public sector organisations to purchase by allowing companies to sign up and be validated with the CloudStore.
With pre-validated suppliers, public sector ICT buyers can skip issuing OJEU tenders and have assurances that the companies they use have been accredited. The supplier list has doubled since the first G-Cloud framework and is now made up of 75 per cent small or medium-sized enterprises.
This expansion of the program now allows open source-focused companies such as Sirius to offer open source based services and support for identity management, big data and databases, enterprise search and enterprise infrastructure. Sirius Chief Executive Mark Taylor has in the past been critical of government open source policies which would see it promote the adoption of open source but leave in place a procurement system built to serve large consultancy companies. "This really is a first!" he said, "The myth 'you can't get support for Open Source' is dead and now it's time to lay to rest the ogre of procurement."
- Government and open source's open relationship Oct 31, 2012
ITWorld - While the U.S. government has historically leaned towards the use open source software, lately there have been a few signs to remind us the government can still very much be a proprietary software consumer. Is the love affair with open source cooling in the halls of government?
Last week, the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced it would be shifting all of its old BlackBerry phones to Apple iPhones, which led to some consternation about why they didn't go with a less-expensive, more open option like Android.
The day before that, at the Red Hat Government Symposium in Washington, DC, Neil Ziring, the Technical Director for the National Security Agency's Information Assurance Directorate made the argument in his talk to the gatherers that open source projects need to start focusing on the origins of their code and documenting it to the satisfaction of those government and industry customers who need to be assured that that code doesn't contain any nasty surprises.
Coming from the NSA, which has invested quite a bit of time and effort in contributing to SELinux, that was a pretty surprising statement. I'll come back this this in a bit.
- Does OpenOffice have a future? Oct 30, 2012
ZDNet - The Apache Software Foundation has made OpenOffice a top-level project but will that be enough to make OpenOffice matter? Should OpenOffice remain an independent open-source project?
A few days ago the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) announced that Apache OpenOffice had graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP). That's nice but will be it enough to make OpenOffice matter given that its LibreOffice fork has stolen much of its thunder?
Sure, it's nice as Andrea Pescetti, VP of Apache OpenOffice, said "The OpenOffice graduation is the official recognition that the project is now able to self-manage not only in technical matters, but also in community issues. The 'Apache Way' and its methods, such as taking every decision in public with total transparency, have allowed the project to attract and successfully engage new volunteers, and to elect an active and diverse Project Management Committee that will be able to guarantee a stable future to Apache OpenOffice." Really? Why?
- Linux Foundation: Windows 8 is stuck in a "liminal space" Oct 29, 2012
Computer Weekly - What does the open source world think of Windows 8?
Now there's a loaded question surely?
If Microsoft has reinvented and reengineered itself to be able to position its OS to serve not just the desktop WIMP space, but also now the touch-enabled search-centric mobile-first always-on cloud-driven market -- then this is a reinvention that was never going to happen without the firm facing a little criticism.
But let's remember, the last time Microsoft launched an operating system there was no iPad (it was still six months away) and Linux was still (apart from a brief honeymoon period with netbooks) still comparatively "in the server room" by most people's estimation.
But since that time, Linux on mobile has grown massively and Android now accounts for 64% of the smartphone market in 2011 (says Gartner).
Also in 2011, we finally saw smartphones outsell PC for the first time and millions of those smart phones run Android.
As Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin suggests, the consumer market is "fully accustomed" to Linux-based software.
- Cloud Apache OpenOffice plans to be discussed next month Oct 24, 2012
ZDNet - The transition of Apache OpenOffice to a Top-Level project from the incubator hopefully clears the way for speedier innovation for the cloud.
It's not clear what the Apache folks are going to do for the cloud, particularly as six versions of the much anticipated online Microsoft Office 365 service is set for debut soon. But it is clear that a hosted online version of Apache OpenOffice is being planned.
At ApacheCon Europe from Nov 5-8, one IBM China and Lotus Symphony exec will discuss a vision of OpenOffice for the Cloud -- "Cloud Apache OpenOffice based on HTML5."
Here's an excerpt from the planned talk:
- GOV.UK "Open" for Business; More to Follow Oct 19, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Back in February I wrote about an exciting project from the Cabinet Office: a complete overhaul of the UK government's "citizen-facing" Web sites. It was exciting in part because it was rather good, which made a nice change for a government computing project, but more particularly because it was open source through and through.
At the time, I gave a list of the main software it was using. Here's what the site is currently running/built with - there are quite a few additions:
- United Kingdom's central e-services site an open source showcase Oct 19, 2012
Joinup - The United Kingdom's government unveiled its new central services and information website, GOV.UK, this week Tuesday. The site is completely built on open source, saving the government some 70 million GBP (about 86 million euro) compared to the previous site, according to Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office. He expects the site to achieve further savings "as more departments and agencies move to on the platform".
Commenting on the new site, the minister writes: "GOV.UK has been built using open source technology, which means we don’t have to pay expensive software licensing costs."
Minister Maude says the release of GOV.UK "is a key element in the Digital by Default agenda. Digital by Default aims to transform public services online – making them better and cheaper for taxpayers and more effective and efficient for government."
"Today marks the start of a new way of delivering public services digitally. GOV.UK is a platform for future digital innovation. In stark contrast to the way IT has been delivered in government in the past, GOV.UK can rapidly accommodate new standards for development and security, catering to emerging technologies and user requirements quickly and effectively."
- The 5 key forces driving open source today Oct 19, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Simon Phipps -From the rise of foundations to emerging revenue models, the open source movement is primed for even greater impact on tomorrow's technologies.
Nearly 15 years since the term "open source" was first applied, the trends driving the open source movement are not the same. Back then, price advantage, direct differentiation on licensing versus proprietary software, adoption-led marketing by innovative entrepreneurs, and market reaction against an ever more abusive monopolist were key factors shaping the direction of open source.
Today's open source movement is more mature, and the trends underlining it are more nuanced and widely engaged. The revolution has had a meaningful impact, and to treat open source as if it is still about saving a few bucks on a software license or socking it to Microsoft is to misunderstand how far the open source movement has come.
The following five trends are key drivers of today's open source communities and projects. From governance to emerging revenue models, they paint a picture of an industry evolving to see the value of the freedoms at the heart of the open source movement.
- It's official: Open source is an engine for growth Oct 17, 2012
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - When I wrote about open source as a stealth stimulus package this summer, some readers expressed skepticism. But two reports from Europe today support the growing hypothesis that open source provides an excellent monetary bundle for economies that embrace it. More than that, it can be a springboard for businesses that engage it on the basis of delivering flexibility rather than restricting their vision to cost savings.
The Open World Forum has been held annually in Paris for the last five years, in part because of the regional government's decision to invest in open source. The man responsible for that allocation is the deputy mayor of Paris, Jean-Louis Missika; it was especially appropriate for him to break the news of how open source has benefited the city. Using data from a PwC survey of 27 international cities known for their business power, Missika reported that Paris is second only to Beijing in economic strength, third in intellectual capital (behind Stockholm and Toronto), and of course first in quality of life.
- Open source's secret ally: Moore's Law Oct 11, 2012
The H Open - Glyn Moody - Linux went from being a cool personal hack in a bedroom to software that would eventually change world just over 21 years ago when Linus sent out his famous "Hello everybody out there using minix" message that invited people to join in. As I noted last month, that open, collaborative approach was really quite new and proved key to the uptake and development of Linux.
That was possible because the internet was sufficiently widely available for enough people to join Linus' distributed team of volunteers. In other words, the rise of free software is intimately bound up with the internet. Indeed, the rapid take-off of Linux compared with the rather slower progress of the GNU Project is probably due, at least in part, to the fact that the latter could not take global connectivity for granted. It was thanks to this that Richard Stallman was able to live off the sales of GNU Emacs, which he sent out on tapes.
The symbiotic nature of free software and the internet – with the former using and being used by the latter – is now widely recognised. But another key factor in the rise of open source has been overlooked, and yet Linus himself mentions it in that first, famous post:
- Open source equals software freedom, not free software Oct 08, 2012
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - How can big companies like Tibco misunderstand open source so badly nearly 15 years after the term was coined?
Vivek Ranadive, CEO of Tibco, is one of the industry's big thinkers, complete with a profile in Esquire. So why would a smart guy like him dismiss open source as "fool's gold"? And why do some software vendors believe they can justify "FRAND terms" on software standards and permit patented capabilities to be inserted into software standards?
These anachronisms and more arise from the "price frame" surrounding open source software. A result of misunderstanding the meaning of the word "free" in "free software," the price frame has been the Rosetta Stone for decoding open source for the past decade. But that's ending, now that we're able to see the true power of open source in ecosystems like OpenStack, where the price of a license is barely relevant.
- Government support of open source falls short Oct 01, 2012
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - American and European governments are hailing open source innovation, but failing to act aggressively on patent reform
Two news items over the last week signalled to me that the benefits of open source, open data, and other artifacts of the meshed Internet society are making it through to policy makers. A new section of the White House website and a speech by a European Commission political prove that progress is under way. But when it comes to legal support, both stop short of advocating real open innovation.
Open source spans the Atlantic
Last week, the White House launched an unusual website that offers a glimpse of the Administration's thinking about IT. The White House Developer Page (captioned "Connecting citizen developers with the tools they need to unlock government data") provides a catalog of resources available to software developers to be able to manipulate data about the workings of government. With sections on open government, open data, and open source, it's clear that the benefits of empowering citizen-creator-consumers appeal to the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, I attended a conference in Brussels at which Neelie Kroes, a senior vice president of the European Commission, announced her plans to earmark 5 percent -- maybe more -- of the Commission's budget for open and innovative solutions from small and medium-size businesses while also seeking ways to stimulate more open innovation. As if anticipating her move, the French government signalled plans to promote open source adoption and allocate the money saved on licenses for investment in open technology.
Kroes has a record of intelligent advocacy of open solutions, especially open standards, and was the Commissioner responsible for sanctioning Microsoft following its antitrust conviction in Europe. This is not the first time Kroes has been an advocate of open source, and her stance has previously been rewarded with a cabinet portfolio in the European Commission with responsibility for Europe's digital agenda.
- French government to use PostgreSQL and LibreOffice in free software adoption push Oct 01, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - The plan could see up to 10 percent of money saved on proprietary software licenses reinvested in improving free software.
French government agencies could become more active participants in free software projects, under an action plan sent by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in a letter to ministers, while software giants Microsoft and Oracle might lose out as the government pushes free software such as LibreOffice or PostgreSQL in some areas.
Ayrault wants different branches of the French administration to use the same free software as one another when possible, so as to share experience and cut support costs. Until now, each ministry or agency has been left to pursue its own strategy.
He also wants them to reinvest between 5 percent and 10 percent of the money they save through not paying for proprietary software licenses, spending it instead on contributing to the development of the free software. The administration already submits patches and bug fixes for the applications it uses, but Ayrault wants to go beyond that, contributing to or paying for the addition of new functionality to the software.
- French PM: Allons à l'open source Sep 28, 2012
Computer Weekly - Open source newswire reports this week suggest that France's new Prime Minister has issued a call to his public sector authority bodies to deploy and use open source technologies at all possible levels.
Monsieur Jean-Marc Ayrault is said to have backed a sanction to encourage French public authority organisations to undertake a "systematic review" of free and open source alternatives when approaching software application development and/or revision and update processes.
This news comes from Joinup -- a website described as a "new collaborative platform" created by the European Commission and funded by the European Union.
- Public sector waking up to security benefits of open source software Sep 26, 2012
While the government has long encouraged the public sector to cut IT costs through implementing open source technology, a number of concerns, including those relating to the security, have continued to hold back change.
Recently though open source software has been given more consideration by public sector procurement staff, said Carl Reynolds, co-founder of Open Health Care UK, an organisation campaigning for the use of open source software in the NHS.
- Scott McNealy: The World Lacks A Major Corporate Sponsor For Open Source Sep 26, 2012
McNealy covers a lot of topics. He discusses his new startupWayIn that provides a corporate social media experience. He jokingly says Larry (Ellison) never calls, referring to Oracle, which acquired Sun Microsystems, the company he co-founded.
Later in the interview we got into the topic of open source. That’s where it gets interesting. He says the tech world no longer has a major corporate supporter for open source. Further, purchasing agents and IT managers are not quantifying the “barrier to exit.” He means that IT is not taking into account what the true cost of total ownership is when they buy from a product company that sells proprietary technology.
- How to pay for open source Sep 24, 2012
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - How can you financially support open source, especially in a new market? The Shared Learning Collaborative believes the best way is with seed money.
We often think of open source as "free software." That's a good association. Many people follow the tradition, dating from the '80s, of referring to software that offers users the liberty to deploy, study, modify, and distribute its source code as "free software."
But that's "free" as in liberty, not "free" as in beer. Like it or not, the idea of getting something for nothing still drives many customers to open source solutions -- and can deceive them into into thinking it's wrong to pay people for open source software.
- OpenStack: open source is "synonymous" with cloud computing Sep 21, 2012
Computer Weekly - The OpenStack Foundation this week comes into being as a new, formally established, completely independent body.
Forged with a remit to promote the development, distribution and adoption of the OpenStack cloud software, the foundation has attracted more than 5,600 individual members, secured more than US$10 million in funding and says that it is ready to fulfil the OpenStack mission of becoming the planet's "ubiquitous" cloud computing platform.
Executive director of the OpenStack Foundation Jonathan Bryce has said that this is a "defining moment" for the open cloud movement.
- Open source key to business success, claims policy advisor Sep 19, 2012
Computer Weekly - Open source systems are essential to business, according to a report from policy advisor Jim Norton.
The report, Open for Business, sponsored by travel firm Amadeus IT Group, calls for open systems in demanding real-time processing environments.
The paper outlines how open systems have developed and why today they are not just fit for purpose but have the potential to deliver industry-wide benefits.
Jim Norton said almost every major business will need to move to open source.
He said the travel industry would particularly benefit from moves to open source, as it operates on tight margins.
“But other sectors also need to realise that open systems have come of age. And if they don’t [take advantage of the benefits] they will be left behind,” said Norton.
- Open source in 2012: Bigger and better than ever Sep 19, 2012
A couple of years ago things were looking pretty desolate for open source. Independent players were struggling with open source revenue models that relied solely on paid support. More important, outside of app dev, the excitement that once swirled around open source seemed in short supply.
Fast-forward to InfoWorld's 2012 Best of Open Source Software awards (aka the Bossies) and you'll see how dramatically things have changed. Open source is playing a leadership role across many categories -- not only in app dev, but also in big data, the private cloud, and NoSQL databases. The old saw of "open source doesn't innovate" has been retired forever.
- The truth about Goobuntu: Google's in-house desktop Ubuntu Linux Aug 30, 2012
ZDNet - Most Linux people know that Google uses Linux on its desktops as well as its servers. Some know that Ubuntu Linux is Google's desktop of choice and that it's called Goobuntu. But almost no one outside of Google knew exactly what was in it or what roles Ubuntu Linux plays on Google's campus, until now.
- Twitter latest big name to join Linux Foundation Aug 29, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - The Linux Foundation is set to announce that Twitter has joined the organisation, along with open source storage services company Inktank and high-performance data centre manufacturer Servergy.
"We're excited to formalise our work with these innovators and to hear from them during this week's LinuxCon and CloudOpen event," Linux Foundation vice president of marketing and developer services Amanda McPherson said.
Twitter's infrastructure depends heavily on Linux to handle the enormous flood of data - 400 million tweets per day, from 140 million active users - constantly moving through the system, according to Twitter open source manager Chris Aniszczyk.
"Linux and its ability to be heavily tweaked is fundamental to our technology infrastructure. By joining The Linux Foundation we can support an organisation that is important to us and collaborate with a community that is advancing Linux as fast as we are improving Twitter," he said.
- GOV.UK team call in open source experts for Drupal advice Aug 28, 2012
ComputerWorld - The Government Digital Service (GDS) has called in Sirius, a company dedicated to providing open-source products, to help it with its Drupal content management system (CMS).
GDS is the team responsible for the much anticipated GOV.UK website, which will act as a single domain for citizens to access services and information across government.
The team has been using Drupal as its CMS for many months, but decided to bring in Sirius to help it harness additional features, as well as get advice on its use of other open source technologies.
- White House offers 'We The People' petition app under open source license Aug 28, 2012
ComputerWorld - The source code of "We The People," the online system that can be used by citizens to submit their petitions to the White House, is being offered as open source software, an official said on Thursday.
"Now anybody, from other countries to the smallest organizations to civic hackers can take this code and put to their own use," wrote Macon Philips, director of digital strategy in a post on the White House blog. It is the first big code release by his team, he added.
- How Microsoft was forced to open Office Aug 20, 2012
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - In Office 2013, Microsoft was compelled to support the true ODF format as well as the PDF format. Here's how open source won.
In a blog post earlier this week, Microsoft's manager for Office standards Jim Thatcher described upcoming changes to Office:
In the next release of Office, we have added two additional formats for use: Strict Open XML and Open Document Format (ODF) 1.2. We have also added support for opening PDF documents so they can be edited within Word and saved to any supported format. By adding support for these standardized document formats, Microsoft Office 2013 provides users with more choice for office document interoperability.
In those dry words we find echoes of a history lesson that demonstrates the power of open source to create valuable competition and innovation in software markets. File formats may not be the most obviously exciting topic, but this announcement casts light onto two important facts about open source: First, open source software can be the perfect competitive pacesetter. Second, open source innovation provides giant's shoulders upon which others can stand.
- New open source Calligra Suite release enhances ODF document support Aug 15, 2012
ComputerWorld - Calligra has published the second stable release of its open source suite that includes word processing, spreadsheets and a sketching program. The new version greatly improves the support of Open Document Format (ODF) documents, said one of its main developers on Tuesday.
The Calligra Suite is an application suite for Linux that includes programs not found in traditional office suites, so the development team prefers to call it an "integrated work applications suite."
"Calligra is for the kind of people that are allergic to the word 'office'," said Boudewijn Rempt, maintainer (head developer) of Calligra's Krita sketching program.
- Saving Mandriva Aug 14, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Simon Phipps - The new management at Mandriva believes that a community-centric approach is the way to save the company from bankruptcy and rebuild lost trust. Do they have it right?
Can new management and a new, community-centric open source approach rescue Mandriva from bankruptcy? Initially called Mandrake Linux, it was one of the early trailblazers of the open source revolution. Based on an early version of Red Hat, but with a KDE user interface, it became especially popular in France and emerged as a distribution in its own right. After merging with Brazil's Conectiva in 2004, it was renamed Mandriva and continued to be a key player in the European Linux market.
But by the start of this decade, it was in serious trouble after an acrimonious split with its founder. While popular in Latin America, Mandriva's star was small and dim next to Red Hat on the server, SUSE in Europe and Ubuntu on the desktop. Instead of falling back on its community, the company fell out with them. The result was a popular fork to create the Mageia distribution. Despite triggering this righteous uprising, Mandriva failed to make its numbers and fell into bankruptcy, surviving only at the grace of certain investors and the French government.
Fast-forward to today, and a new strategy. With a fresh injection of cash both from the Paris regional government and from Swiss investor Jean-Manuel Croset, the company is making up with its community and making bold plans for the future. Croset has taken over as CEO and has fresh, pragmatic ideas about how Mandriva can rise like a phoenix from the ashes of past mismanagement. He's brought OpenOffice and LibreOffice community veteran Charles-Henri Schulz on board as marketing manager to drive a renewal of community relations - a positively received development. You can watch my interview with them:
- Dungeons and (open source storage) dragons Aug 10, 2012
Computer Weekly - The world of data storage is changing and open source is helping (well, trying extremely hard) to shake up a few traditional technology standards.
For many years, storage has been about big boxes from big name storage vendors. Usual suspects here might include EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, NetApp, Oracle Exadata and obviously we could extend this list ad infinitum if we started to add hard drive manufacturers, big data players and database shops.
But could things really be changing now?
Nexenta specialises in industry standard, software-only, open architecture, hardware-agnostic storage solutions. The company suggests that an open source software-based approach to storage systems has the potential to free developers from the ties that bind them to dungeon-like onsite corporate storage systems.
Could open source developers be the new dragon slayers?
NOTE: These storage options are bringing technologies like Sun's Zetabyte File System (ZFS), which Sun transferred to the open-source community, back to the forefront.
"While Oracle, which took over Sun, still offers ZFS in its Solaris products, the technology appears to have been shunted to the sidelines. But a new generation of companies are using a fork of OpenSolaris, known as Illumos, to provide the foundation for a storage-focused Solaris distribution based on ZFS," said Evan Powell, CEO, Nexenta Systems.
- Linux foe SCO enters final death throes Aug 09, 2012
V3 - The remnants of embattled software firm SCO Group has entered the final phase of its bankruptcy proceedings and liquidation.
The company, now known as TSG Group, on Tuesday filed a motion to move from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy protections, an indication that the firm has no "reasonable likelihood" of paying its debts and would enter final liquidation.
According to a copy of the filing posted to the GrokLaw blog, the company will seek to continue its remaining legal actions. GrokLaw, which has had a long and contentious history with SCO, said that the filing marks the final death throes for the infamous Unix vendor.
- Biased Buyers Blocking Open Source Aug 06, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Simon Phipps - A recent report shows that 17% of ICT procurement across Europe is biased, with the UK the 4th most common offender.
The market for public services is very large - almost 20% of Europe's GDP in 2009 - and continues to grow. It's consequently a valuable source of business and provides an economic stimulus to Europe that's far more significant than any individual initiative a government might devise.
It's thus in Europe's interest to ensure that market is as open as possible, so that the effects of the "stimulus package" of public procurement can benefit any qualified player. That's especially the case in ICT, where there's a tendency for legacy US vendors to lock in customers and thus lock out European participants.
How do you do open procurement for ICT solutions? The answer, according to the European Commission, is to ensure that all procurement that requires tendering (and not all does) is specified in terms of the functions required rather than expressing a preference for the brands involved in the solution. That makes huge sense and is likely to create an open, competitive market, with all the cost savings you'd expect.
That's why it's now a legal requirement for public authorities across Europe to procure this way. Directive 2004/18/EC says:
- Adobe releases Source Sans Pro, a new open source font Aug 03, 2012
Ars Technica - Adobe has open sourced a new font family called Source Sans Pro. The font itself is now available in OTF and TTF formats. The company is also releasing the underlying source material so that the font can easily be modified and improved by third parties. Adobe is releasing the fonts under the terms of the SIL Open Font License, an OSI-approved license that broadly allows modification and redistribution.
Source Sans Pro was created by Adobe typeface designer Paul D. Hunt. He announced the availability of the font today in an entry that was published on Adobe’s Typblography blog. In the blog entry, he explains that the design was partly inspired by the visual simplicity of the Gothic fonts created by influential designer Morris Fuller Benton in the early 20th century.
Adobe aims to use the new font in its open source software applications. Hunt’s blog entry says that a preliminary version is included as a user interface font in Brackets, an open source code editor for Web development that Adobe is building with HTML5 on top of WebKit. Feedback from early uses encouraged further refinement, such as adding a little tail to the lowercase "l" to help better distinguish it from an uppercase "I" character.
- Oracle releases MySQL migration tools for SQL Server, Windows users Aug 02, 2012
ZDNet - Oracle is making a big push to convert Microsoft SQL Server users to mySQL.
The Redwood Shores, Calif. database giant has released a new set of migration tools to ease the process of moving to the Windows-based open source database.
The migration tools, which were announced July 25 and will be showcased at MySQL Connect in late September, allows users to more easily migrate data from Microsoft SQL Server to Oracle's MySQL.
"The new migration tool is integrated into MySQL Workbench, which allows the visual design, development and administration of MySQL databases, and now provides a complete solution for migrating Microsoft SQL Server database tables and data to MySQL with less time and effort," Oracle announced in a press release. "With MySQL Workbench, SQL Server developers and DBAs can quickly and easily convert existing applications to run MySQL on Windows as well as Linux and other platforms."
- Microsoft profits from Linux patent FUD Jul 26, 2012
ZDNet - Microsoft has long made some nice cash from convincing Android vendors that they should pay them for Linux-related patents. Now, for the first time, a company that uses Linux on its servers. Amdocs has publicly paid off Microsoft for patents covering Linux. Mind you, there's never been any proof that Linux violates any of Microsoft's patents. Despite that, several C level executives have made similar contracts and tell me that Microsoft has been shaking them down for Linux patent licensing agreements for years.
- New life for the Open Source Initiative Jul 20, 2012
ZDNet - There was a time that everyone in the Linux and open-source world knew about the Open Source Initiative (OSI). It was, and still is, the group which manages the Open Source Definition. This is the core open-source defining document for developers, governments, and businesses. All the other open-source licensees—Apache, BSD, GPL—all some of their legitimately to the OSI. In recent years, though, the OSI has laid fallow. Now, it wants to change that and once more become a vital part of the open-source community.
At OSCon, the OSI announced that it would accepting applications for Individual Membership.The new Individual Membership category allows individuals who support the mission and work of the OSI to join discussions about that work, to be represented in the evolving governance of the OSI, and to spin up task-focused Working Groups to tackle open-source community needs. Individual Members are asked to make a tax-deductible donation to support the mission of OSI. You can find out more out OSI Individual Membership at the site.
I asked Simon Phipps, OSI President, and long time open-source leader why someone would want to join the OSI considering how quiet the organization had been over the last few years. Phipps replied, “we looked at our mission statement on opensource.org and felt we needed to re-focus on what it says!"
- Italian Local Government Warms to Open Source Jul 18, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - There is a natural tendency to concentrate on what is happening locally, and so most of the stories here on Open Enterprise are about what's happening in the UK, or developments that affect it directly. But it's important to remember that open source is a global development, and that things are bubbling away everywhere, all the time.
- Bristol extends open source adoption to document management Jul 17, 2012
ComputerWorld - Bristol City Council is using an open source electronic document management system to overhaul its record keeping and improve staff access to documents online.
The move to electronic documents and online team collaboration is a key enabling component of the council's plan to shave Â£70 million off its annual operating budget. Bristol's move towards council-wide open source adoption to save money started in 2010, and won central government support at the end of last year.
The new, open source Alfresco software will allow staff to access electronic documents online from any location, reducing dependence on paper, and it will give project teams the ability to share information virtually through a collaboration platform.
Gavin Beckett, chief enterprise architect at Bristol City Council, said: "Alfresco offers a rich set of features in a user-friendly package with the additional bonus of being an open source platform, which means we can use it right across the board without having to spend large sums on licences.
"The other advantage of open source and open standards is that barriers are removed for SME's and local ICT suppliers to collaborate with the council."
- Open source community collaboration strategies for the enterprise Jul 17, 2012
O'Reilly Radar - Simon Phipps - OSCON’s theme last year was “from disruption to default.” Over the last decade, we’ve seen open source shift from the shadows to the limelight. Today, more businesses than ever are considering the role of open source in their strategies. I’ve had the chance to watch and participate in the transitions of numerous businesses and business units to using open source for the first time, as well as observing how open source strategies evolve for software businesses, both old and new.
In the view of many, open source is the pragmatic expression of the ethical idea of “software freedom,” articulated in various ways for several decades by communities around both Richard Stallman’s GNU Project and the BSD project. The elements of open source and free software are simple to grasp; software freedom delivers the rights to use, study, modify and distribute software for any purpose, and the Open Source Definition clarifies one area of that ethical construct with pragmatic rules that help identify copyright licenses that promote software freedom. But just as simple LEGO bricks unlock an infinite world of creativity, so these open source building blocks offer a wide range of usage models, which are still evolving.
This paper offers some thinking tools for those involved in the consideration and implementation of open source strategies, both in software consuming organizations and by software creators. It aims to equip you with transferrable explanations for some of the concepts your business leaders will need to consider. It includes:
- Finnish city of Tampere to begin pilot with open source office suite Jul 16, 2012
Joinup - The IT department of the Finnish city of Tampere will try out OpenOffice, a free and open source office suite. The free suite of office productivity tools will be installed alongside the proprietary office suite currently used by the city staff. The IT department warns against high expectations.
The pilot follows a request made by the city council's Green party a year ago. The IT department sent its outline for the desktop pilot to the city council last month.
The IT department writes that it already uses open source for many parts of its work. "For the city staff the most visible illustration is the Intranet, running on open source."
- Accounting for Vendor Lock-in Jul 16, 2012
Rob Weir - I am not an accountant. However, as a Graham and Dodd value investor over the years, I’ve picked up some of the fundamental principles. A key one is the Matching Principle, that revenues and expenses should be booked in a way that clarifies the underlying business performance, rather than based purely on the timing of cash transactions. In some cases this requires the use of special accounts, for things like depreciation, where the lifetime of a fixed asset (say factory machinery) extends beyond a single revenue cycle.
A similar technique is used when dealing with deferred expenses. For example take the case of a nuclear power plant. A plant has a useful lifetime, but when that end date arrives there is a clean up cost. The property is not immediately usable for other purposes, but must undergo an expensive remediation. From an accounting perspective there is an asset retirement obligation, a form of deferred expense. This deferred expense is recognized on the books as a liability based on the present value of the expected clean up cost, which is then depreciated.
I think of vendor lock-in in a similar way, but one where the clean up costs are commonly not recognized, either formally or even informally, as a deferred expense. Instead, the costs are attributed 100% to any alternative vendor. This leads to absurdities like the claim that moving to OpenOffice from Microsoft Office would be a huge expense. That is like saying that an old, non-functioning power plant cannot be used for any other purpose because the cleanup costs are too high. The costs could be real, but we only obscure the economic reality when we recognize vendor lock-in only at exit. It should have been considered at the entrance, and as a liability against picking a closed solution.
- Helsinki's open source proponents object to secrecy on software costs Jul 16, 2012
Joinup - Advocates of free and open source software in Helsinki are pressing the city's IT department to make public the cost calculations they used to argue that a switch to a vendor-independent office suite is too expensive. A member of the city council is considering a demand that the IT department divulges the details.
"I am disappointed on this decision by the IT department to keep the cost details under wraps", comments Green League city council member Johanna Sumuvuori. The council member has been advocating the use of open source by the city administration since October 2010. Following her council resolution the city started a ten-month pilot with using Open Office in February 2011.
- City of Helsinki Wants To Keep Software Costs Secret Jul 12, 2012
FSFE - The IT department of the city of Helsinki claimed in a report to the city board that migrating to OpenOffice would cost is over 21 million euros. On 10th of April 2012, FSFE filed a Freedom of Information request, asking the city how it had arrived at a surprisingly high cost estimates for running OpenOffice (now LibreOffice) on the city's workstations. The city of Helsinki has now denied this request and has stated that it will not release any details about the calculations.
- Google open-sources Android 'Jelly Bean' 4.1 for third-party modification Jul 11, 2012
ZDNet - Google has released the source code for Android 'Jelly Bean' 4.1 so that third-party developers can modify it.
Less than two weeks after the official launch of Jelly Bean, Google said on Monday that the version of the mobile operating system was ready for the open source community.
- The Higgs Boson: Another Feather in Linux's Cap Jul 10, 2012
TechNewsWorld - It's not exactly any secret that Linux dominates the world of high-performance computing, so perhaps it should go without saying that last week's exciting Higgs Boson announcement would involve Linux in some not-insignificant way.
The reality, however, turns out to be far greater than marginal significance.
In fact, "Linux Played a Crucial Role in Discovery of 'Higgs boson'" is the headline of a story calling attention to the real role Linux played, and it's an inspiring tale.
- The Unbearable Lightness of Openness Jul 05, 2012
Gartner - Over the last ten years I have come across countless consultants and advisors to government and the broader public sector who have been asserting the unquestionable benefits of anything preceded by the term “open”. Open standards, open source, open data, open government, open innovation, and so forth. Those who are younger in the business may not remember, but often the very same individuals who got some notoriety around – say – promoting open source in government, can now be found among the supporters of open data.
As an analyst I always have to keep at a distance from innovations,.products, services, vendors and in general anything that gets particularly hyped. The reason why clients subscribe to services provided by Gartner and other IT analyst firms is to have an unbiased view about technologies and technology-intensive innovations, in order to adopt them where and when they are a clear fir for their strategic priorities. Of course we can have personal preferences, and like some technologies more than others, but this cannot and does not influence the way we operate.
Now, I happen to like everything “open” quite a lot. Especially when associated to government, which is owned by the people, the idea of sharing code, data, ideas, like the best thing to do. On the other hand, when it comes to spending public money, it is absolutely essential to make sure it is being spent wisely.
- Mozilla Gains Global Support for a Firefox Mobile OS Jul 03, 2012
MarketWatch - Industry support is growing behind Mozilla's plans to launch a new fully open mobile ecosystem based on HTML5. The operating system, which Mozilla today confirmed will use its Firefox brand, will power the launch of smartphones built entirely to open Web standards, where all of the device's capabilities can be developed as HTML5 applications.
Mapping to key Firefox footprints around the globe, leading operators Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Telenor are backing the open Firefox OS as an exciting new entrant to the smartphone marketplace. They have also identified the potential of the technology to deliver compelling smartphone experiences at attainable prices.
Device manufacturers TCL Communication Technology (under the Alcatel One Touch brand) and ZTE today announced their intentions to manufacture the first devices to feature the new Firefox OS, using Snapdragon(TM) processors from Qualcomm Incorporated, the leader in smartphone platforms. The first Firefox OS powered devices are expected to launch commercially in Brazil in early 2013 through Telefonica's commercial brand, Vivo.
- Perspectives on Apache OpenOffice 3.4 download numbers Jun 25, 2012
Rob Weir - You may have read, on the Apache OpenOffice blog, news that the project has had 5 million downloads in the first 6 weeks since the release of version 3.4. And as the above chart shows, the download rate has increased in the past two weeks, as we’ve started to roll out the upgrade notifications to OpenOffice.org 3.3 users.
When I mention the “5 million” achievement, the reaction is generally along the lines of, “That’s excellent !!! Right? That is good, isn’t it?” The fact is the number is large, but without comparison or context, it is hard to gauge. I think I can provide some comparisons and context to put these numbers in perspective.
- FOI request: Public sector favours legacy over open-source storage Jun 20, 2012
Computing - Local and central government departments in the UK are favouring legacy storage systems from the likes of IBM and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) as opposed to open-source storage, according to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
The request was made by open-source software provider Nexenta Systems, and the revelation comes despite the government's efforts over the past few years to cut costs and create a level playing field between open source and proprietary software vendors.
- Open And Humanitarian Jun 14, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Simon Phipps - Open source software, open hardware and crowd-sourced innovation are the key to a new project intended to design clever, low cost data gathering tools for relief efforts.
When we think of open source, the ancient saying that our achievements arise only because we stand on the shoulders of giants is often validated. Apple's huge success is in large part because it has been able to use so much open source software, albeit giving very little back to the commons (as is their corporate style); Microsoft, IBM and most others owe big slices of their product portfolio to their ability to build on open source precursors rather than to reinvent the basics.
While such commercial examples may spring to mind readily, open source is also having enormous impact in allowing humanitarian activities to start aloft giant shoulders rather than needing to painstakingly build from the ground upwards - the Sahana Software Foundation epitomises this. For aid and relief organisations, open source is as important for providing access to innovation and technology as it is for reducing costs.
- Open Source Law Releases Report On Open Standards Jun 11, 2012
Brendan Scott’s Weblog - I have been doing a bit of work for a variety of people recently relating to standards and standards setting. In early May I saw that the UK open standards consultation process had been extended because of a potential conflict of interest by one of the facilitators. Linux Australia commissioned a report from me about Open Standards. That report was completed last week and, I understand, Linux Australia has used it as a basis for a submission to the UK Open Standards Consultation process. The report covers a variety of issues relating to open standards.
- Samsung takes a seat with Intel and IBM at the Linux Foundation Jun 07, 2012
The Inquirer - THE LINUX FOUNDATION has announced that Samsung has become a platinum sponsor, joining other Linux heavyweights such as Intel and IBM.
Samsung was previously listed as a silver sponsor of the Linux Foundation, an organisation that promotes the use, development and deployment of Linux and consists of just about every technology company of note except Microsoft. Now Samsung has upgraded its membership to become a platinum partner, paying $500,000 per year for the privilege of having some say in how what is arguably the most important operating system kernel in use today evolves.
- Number 10 shuts wallet on closed-source IT projects Jun 01, 2012
The Register - Government IT projects that don’t explore alternatives to closed and proprietary software are getting kicked back and denied funding.
The civil servant running open source, open standards and information management under No 10’s digital change agenda called such spending controls a “key gateway” in complying with new IT procurement rules.
Those new rules encourage re-use of technology, low-cost solutions and greater use of SME suppliers in the UK public sector's IT shopping catalogue G-Cloud - rather than simply renewing existing IT contracts from systems integrators who control the product code and the customer relationship.
And it’s the Cabinet Office, running G-Cloud, that is vetoing spending.
- Metadata plan should ease EU open source projects Jun 01, 2012
ComputerWorld - The European Commission wants to improve its free and open-source software repository system using an enhanced metadata specification meant to help E.U. countries exchange more information about their free and open-source software projects.
European public administrations are encouraged to share and reuse free and open software through a federation of software collaboration platforms aimed at increasing visibility of open-source projects available in European countries. The Commission's Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations (ISA) Programme was established to support that effort and gave a presentation last week on how to improve use of the repositories, which are called "forges."
The ISA plans to improve how national open-source repositories are linked, the organization said on Joinup, the Commission portal for reuse of open-source software. Currently, there is information about software projects available on Joinup, but only three elements are listed: name, description and URL.
- Government cites Facebook and Twitter as inspiration for its openness agenda May 31, 2012
V3 - The government has said that its digital services agenda is partly inspired by firms that embrace openness, such as Twitter and Facebook.
The claim was made at the Open Government Summit in Westminster on Wednesday by Government Digital Service (GDS) innovation and delivery proposition director Mark O'Neill.
He said government services need to be built using open source technology and open standards in order to lower IT costs, create interoperability for service users and further the government's open data strategy. The social media giants were compelling examples of this, he added.
- Open source still feared within Whitehall, says IT architect May 31, 2012
The Guardian - The government is missing opportunities to make significant savings by dismissing open source software when procuring products, Tariq Rashid, lead architect at the Home Office, has said.
Rashid, whose role covers information, applications, infrastructure, open standards, and open source, told the Open Gov Summit in London that he has had "lots of battles internally" with the IT security team at the Home Office around open source.
"There is a fear in government that sometimes if we use open source, we've exposed ourselves and that isn't the case. It enables innovation, it gives you flexibility to change," he said. "There's a debate about whether it's free or not. You can access the software for free, but clearly you'll have to pay for support if you want it."
- Open source software driving cloud-based innovation May 23, 2012
ITPRO - Quality of software, freedom from vendor lock-in and lower costs are main reasons for using open source.
Open source software is boosting innovation in cloud, mobility and big data, according to the sixth annual Future of Open Source Survey.
Nearly half (40 per cent) of significant technology innovations from new projects in open source are cloud-based. Another 19 per cent were in mobile apps with 15 per cent devoted to mobile enterprise.
The research questioned 740 respondents and found that in nearly a third of companies, open source software was deployed throughout three-quarters of an organisation.
The quality of open source is one of the top three reasons for adoption in the enterprise, the survey found. Freedom from vendor lock-in and lower costs being the other two.
One of the main conclusions of the report was that open source is not just fuelling innovation, but leading it.
- Lacking support from other administrations, Freiburg ends use of open source office May 17, 2012
Joinup - The German city of Freiburg will end its use of OpenOffice, an open source office suite, and go back to a proprietary office suite, according to one well-informed source. The source blames a lack of support for open document standards by other local, regional, federal and European public administrations as the main reason for the failure of the project.
The city board on Friday approved a suggestion made by external consultants to move all nearly 2000 desktop PCs back to a proprietary office suite. The city council will be informed next month.
The source says the consultants' main argument for the reversal are the problems with interoperability.
The city's IT department over the past few years repeatedly pleaded for German and European administrations to use the Open Document Format (ODF) when exchanging electronic documents. The city's civil workers faced too many interoperability problems receiving and handling documents sent by their counterparts in other public administrations saved in the proprietary vendor's formats.
- Ubuntu 12.04 vs. Windows 8: Five points of comparison May 14, 2012
ZDNet - 2012 has already seen a major update of what’s arguably the most important Linux desktop: Ubuntu 12.04 and we’re also seeing the most radical update of Windows with Windows 8 Metro coming since Windows 95 replaced Windows 3.1. So, which will end up the better for its change?
- Open source suites go beyond Microsoft Office May 14, 2012
InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - Open source desktop productivity suites are experiencing an injection of enthusiasm, as recent burst of news releases confirms.
In my blog post last week, as well as showing a cool video of Ubuntu for Android in action, I asserted that open source makes the perfect foundation for innovation. A sequence of news releases about open source desktop productivity suites have shown up over the last few weeks to add to the assertion. With this amount of energy, open source suites are looking more and more like interesting alternatives to Microsoft Office.
- Apple's HTML5 bet against Android extermination May 10, 2012
The Register - Matt Asay - Open ... and Shut - Harvard professor Clayton Christensen has more than 500 billion reasons to think he's wrong to suggest Apple is in for rough sailing, but he's not backing down. The father of disruption theory - a theory that Apple's former chief executive Steve Jobs claimed had a huge impact on his thinking - believes that Apple's end-to-end, integrated approach to innovation is susceptible to disruption from a more modular, open approach like that of Google's Android.
It takes a bold person to predict Apple's downfall even as it continues to grow from strength to strength, but Christensen is comforted by having the weight of history on his side:
The transition from proprietary architecture to open, modular architecture just happens over and over again. It happened in the personal computer, and although it didn't kill Apple's computer business, it relegated them to a minor player.
- Apache releases new OpenOffice build, promises faster upgrades May 09, 2012
The Register - The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has released an updated version of the OpenOffice free software suite, with enhanced graphics and better encryption support.
Version 3.4 of the office suite has had major changes in the graphics capability of the package. OLEObject handling has been improved, thanks in part to volunteer coder Armin LeGrand, as well as support for scalable vector graphics and better chart rendering. Line cap graphics have also received an improvement that should improve the look and feel of the code.
Other new features include a speeding up of the boot process and better support for ODF, notably ODF 1.2 encryption, as well as multiple images within the format. The entire software suite is now also under the Apache License 2 regime.
- Why RAND Is Bad For Open Source Apr 20, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Simon Phipps - Here's an easy guide to the core issue in the UK Government's Open Standards Consultation so you can participate more easily. Please do - your country needs you!
By now, you're hopefully aware that there's a consultation in progress by the UK government on certain key aspects of their procurement strategy. Specifically, lobbying has re-opened the question of how "open standards" should be defined by the government for procurement purposes. The emergence of this zombie issue appears to be related once again to office productivity documents - yes, the OOXML vs ODF issue isn't over.
While this appeared to be settled following earlier work by the Cabinet Office, Glyn Moody has uncovered evidence that shows first how Microsoft, the BSA and associated companies have argued that it is unfair to their proprietary software business to require mandatory standards to be free from patent encumbrances placed by the authors of the standards, and second that this opposition appears to only applies to cases where the standards in question disadvantage proprietary interests.
- Red Hat cautiously optimistic about Microsoft's Open Technologies Inc Apr 20, 2012
Naturally. In the past, Microsoft described Linux and open source as a “cancer” on the software industry. Red Hat pointed out that the path to openness was not without opposition. With that it mind, Red Hat today penned a cautiously optimistic response to the news.
Here it is, verbatim:
- Microsoft bigs up open source, then stuffs it under the sofa Apr 19, 2012
The Register - Matt Asay - Open ... and Shut Microsoft's new Open Technologies subsidiary may be many things, but one thing it's not is "further demonstration of Microsoft’s long-term commitment to interoperability, greater openness, and to working with open source communities", as Microsoft has positioned it.
While it's true that Microsoft's self-interest has increasingly aligned with open source and open standards like HTML5 over the years, it's not true that isolating its open technology efforts will somehow help the software giant engage more in this world. If anything, openness will increasingly be "what our subsidiary does" for Microsofties still hoping to win a 21st-century battle using a 20th-century strategy.
When I tweeted as much, Microsoft's Peter Galli was quick to email me to suggest I hadn't understood; that "open source does, and will continue to, permeate Microsoft". I am sure Galli and the rest of the open-source crowd at Microsoft sincerely believe this, but it's hard to see how Microsoft can hope to embrace open source and other open technologies while sidelining them to a subsidiary.
- ESOP - Portuguese Open Source Business Association - publishes studies on the laptop retail oligopoly Apr 18, 2012
ESOP has just made available two studies with a focus on the retail oligopoly dominating laptop sales. The artificial exclusion of Linux-based laptops amounts to 3 to 5 Million Euros in direct impacts in the Portuguese economy. Indirect impacts may be much higher.
The first study analyses the national economic impacts of introducing a series of locally-assembled laptops with an Open Source system and applications. This study measures the effects on GDP, employment, trade balance and discretionary income.
The second study analyses this market behaviour, which is typical of retail oligopolies. The analysis derives a probability model for retail markets and addresses several malfunctioning phenomena in the frame of the existing European legislation for competition.
- Microsoft – carefully – edges closer to the open-source community Apr 18, 2012
PCA - Despite a rocky historical relationship with the open-source community, Microsoft's recent decision to create a specialized Open Technologies spinoff is the latest phase of its recent rapprochement with the open world -- as well as a canny defensive measure.
Jeffrey Hammond, a principal analyst for Forrester Research, says that the aim of the Open Technologies announcement is twofold.
"I think the big idea is that Microsoft wants to get more involved in the open-source community. And in order to do that they need to set up some firewalls to protect IP that they have in their corporate environment," he says. "Basically, what they want to be able to do is have a way that their lawyers will allow them to participate in open-source communities and even work with [them] without potentially infecting existing products."
The current crop of developers -- which Hammond refers to as the "Github generation" -- is heavily focused on working within open-source software communities, whose importance to the business software marketplace has grown rapidly.
"Those [communities] are now the planets around which vendors spin," he says.
- IBM, Red Hat help form OpenStack Foundation Apr 17, 2012
ZDNet - OpenStack, the open source infrastructure-as-a-service platform that has been adopted by the industry as the David to Amazon Web Service's proprietary Goliath, has signed up 19 major technology companies to steward the development of the technology.
The 19 initial supporters of the OpenStack Foundation were announced on Thursday. Initial 'Platinum' members include AT&T, Canonical, HP, IBM, Nebula, Rackspace, Red Hat and SUSE, while the 'Gold' members are Cisco, ClearPath Networks, Cloudscaling, Dell, DreamHost, ITRI, Mirantis, Morphlabs, NetApp, Piston Cloud Computing and Yahoo.
- Microsoft Launches A Whole New Company To Deal With Open Source Apr 16, 2012
Business Insider - Microsoft has spun off a subsidiary just to deal with its work on open source software and standards.
The new company is called Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc., and it will be run by Microsoft's long-term open source advocate, Jean Paoli. The group will manage all the work that Microsoft does with standards bodies as well as the contributions Microsoft makes to open source projects.
Microsoft has had a stormy relationship with open source developers over the years -- embracing open source in some ways and antagonizing its proponents in others.
The issue is open source licenses, which govern how the code can be used.
- The expanding need to protect innovation in Linux Apr 13, 2012
ZDNet - Anyone scanning the technology news will likely be struck by the number of intellectual property deals and lawsuits going on at the moment. From Google and Motorola to the ongoing saga of Nortel and Microsoft, and the recent news around Yahoo suing Facebook, intellectual property is turning out to be a dominating story for the tech space at the start of 2012. While money remains one major reason for this, a more positive aspect is the tremendous growth and increasing importance of Linux and other open source software systems.
A coterie of innovation like that of the open source community, benefits everyone from the vendors to the end user who is consuming ever evolving technology. This cooperation and the sharing of ideas are fundamental to the success of the open source community. However, the revenues at stake lead to continual streams of disputes and negotiations. With each big lawsuit that hits the headlines, so the freedom to innovate is ever more potentially constricted as developers grow nervous.
- Intel outlines open source development projects Apr 04, 2012
The Register - Collaboration Summit 2012 The director of Intel's Open Source Technology Center Imad Sousou outlined the chip giant's plans to invest in the open source community and provided an update on two key projects, speaking at the Linux Foundation's Collaboration Summit in San Francisco.
Intel is fully committed to open source, Sousou explained, because it wants the maximum number of people using its hardware to the best advantage. The best way to do this is to join the community, and he said Intel was now the second biggest corporate sponsor of Linux, behind Red Hat, as well as being a board member of The Document Foundation, which produces the open source office suite LibreOffice.
"We want to end up with Linux supporting your hardware better than anyone else, so that we coevolve," he told his keynote audience on Tuesday. "Historically, we believe as technology gets better and more used, then the more Intel grows."
- Linux boss: We're number one where it counts Apr 04, 2012
The Register - Collaboration Summit 2012 At the start of the 6th annual Linux Foundation's Collaboration Summit, chief executive Jim Zemlin is in buoyant mood. Attendance has never been better, open source code is becoming more popular in new areas of the industry, and Linux is number one in all the sectors that count.
"We want to continue our trajectory in every corner of the industry," Zemlin told The Register. "We're seeing Linux as the primary platform for greenfield sites in large enterprises, the primary operating system for cloud computing build outs, and we're seeing tremendous growth in mobile and the embedded markets."
While some in Redmond might point to the fact that Linux is still not king of the corporate desktop, Zemlin said that that battle isn't particularly relevant anymore. People use a wider variety of computing devices to use computers, and the browser is the becoming the most common interface for most users.
- Red Hat becomes first $1bn open-source company Mar 30, 2012
ZDNet - Red Hat has become the first open-source company to surpass a billion dollars in yearly revenues, with the Linux specialist's earnings helped by broader use of its software in the public and financial sectors.
The company reported fiscal 2012 revenue of $1.13bn (£711m) on Wednesday, and fourth-quarter revenue of $297m, up 25 and 21 percent year-over-year respectively. The quarter's net income of $36m was marginally down on the previous quarter's $38.2m, but up on the previous year's $33.5m.
"Red Hat has become the first pure-play open-source company and one of a few select software companies to have ever achieved this [$1bn] milestone," the company's chief executive, Jim Whitehurst, said on an earnings conference call.
- Munich's mayor claims €4m savings from Linux switch Mar 30, 2012
The Register - Christian Ude, the mayor of Munich and occasional political cabaret artist, is trumpeting the cost savings made by switching from Windows to Linux, claiming his city has saved over €4m over the last year alone.
Ude claims that Munich's IT department saved about a third of their total budget last year by dumping Windows and Microsoft Office in favor of Linux and OpenOffice. Buying new Windows software and upgrading systems so they could actually run it would have cost over €15m, with another €2.8m due in 3 to 4 years of license renewal, according to official figures.
- Open Source Group Urges EU Parliament Staff to Reject Microsoft 'bribe' Mar 26, 2012
PCW - The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is urging workers at the European Parliament not to accept free licenses to Microsoft programs, saying it would be a breach of ethics.
Microsoft is offering home-use licenses for Microsoft Office, Project (project management software) and Visio (a diagramming tool) through the Parliament's administration office. Such offers are not unusual in Microsoft's contracts with large organizations, but, said FSFE's Karsten Gerloff, "political institutions like the European Parliament are bound to higher standards."
The offer is for Parliament staffers only and will probably not be extended to elected members. However, "staffers are the ones who make the wheels turn. They're the ones who do all the legwork, and they control access to the MEPs," pointed out Gerloff.
"Competition and procurement issues aside, it doesn't seem proper that the people making the rules for the European market should accept gifts from the very companies they're regulating," he continued.
- Iceland’s public sector IT moves towards open source Mar 23, 2012
The Inquirer - Open Source Software is finding favour on the Icelandic government scene with the announcement that all of its public administration organisations will adopt it.
Tryggvi Björgvinsson is the head of the project and said that Iceland's adoption of open source software will start in major cities like the capital, Reykjavik and include all government ministries and the National Hospital.
It is likely to be a gradual move and build on work already done, while fostering an environment full of cooperation and knowledge sharing.
- Latest Linux kernel 3.3 comes with added Android Mar 20, 2012
The Register - The latest kernel update for Linux has been released, and features supporting Android are back for the first time since 2010, along with improved processor and networking support.
- Ice Cream Sandwich for Android rolling out Mar 19, 2012
USA Today - While the launch of the new iPad is grabbing headlines worldwide this month, its chief software rival, Android by Google, is also undergoing a series of sharp changes that have not been heralded as widely.
Google's strategy — to develop the same operating system software that every phone and tablet maker could share and create a uniform experience for users — has largely worked.
Android is quickly becoming one of the most popular operating systems, embraced by some of the largest smartphone makers worldwide.
- A golden age of open source innovation? Mar 16, 2012
The H Open - Glyn Moody - Open source's ability to innovate has been challenged many times. But Glyn Moody argues that open source innovation is actually going from strength to strength, creating new opportunities to deliver cheap computing to people corporations would not normally consider.
One of the most persistent criticisms of open source is that it is not innovative, but is simply a re-working of other people's ideas. Here's a famous statement of that view by Microsoft's Jim Allchin from the first Halloween Document
- Nvidia''s embrace of Linux Foundation highlights open source's growing status Mar 12, 2012
ITWorld - The announcement this week that chipmaker Nvidia is among the latest crop of companies to join the Linux Foundation is a sign of the growing importance of open source to the business sector -- and a reversal for a firm that, traditionally, hasn't been counted among the stalwarts of that community.
The GPU manufacturer may actually have contributed to the difficulties that Linux has had in breaking into the desktop market, says 451 Research senior analyst Jay Lyman.
"Nvidia comes to mind as one of the influential technology leaders that's really lagged in terms of supporting Linux," Lyman says, though he adds that, in the past, this disinterest in the platform was not uncommon.
Times change, however, and the analyst points out that Nvidia even has a vice president of Linux platform software now. "That's a testament to how far Linux and open-source software have come, not only in the eyes of big corporations ... but also in terms of their place in the market," he says. Of late, for a variety of reasons, "we see a realization of the need to participate [in] Linux, because it is increasingly a factor in the market," he adds, pointing out that the server, embedded and mobile (in the form of Android) markets have proven fertile.
- The open source movement enlarges its shield Mar 07, 2012
CNN - An alliance of technology corporations, including IBM, is expanding the scope of patent protection it provides to developers, vendors, and users of open source software such as Linux. The move cuts against the grain of major companies going after each other, filing suit over patent infringement.
The consortium, known as the Open Invention Network, already provides an array of patent protections to certain Linux and open-source applications found on corporate data-center and back-office servers. Today's announcement will extend those protections to more than 700 additional open-source software packages, including Android, Google's (GOOG) smartphone operating system; OpenJDK, a popular programmers' development kit; and applications relating to network management and security. "As the Linux community expands," says the network's CEO Keith Bergelt, "we've had to broaden the aperture of our protections."
- Open source helicopters trivialize Europe's ODF troubles Mar 07, 2012
Computer Weekly - While technocrats in Westminster and Brussels cringe over the question of open document formats, the US military is planning a generation of open source helicopters.
This is not just a generation of helicopters. It is the next generation of US military helicopter. It'll be built on open standards, and will actively court open source systems suppliers.
The US Army issued an official request for information on the proposal last week, formally kick-starting a procurement that will make the pedestrian kerfuffle over document formats in civvy street seem, well, pedestrian.
It has already shone an unforgiving light on the question of royalties - one that has undermined every civil administration that has attempted to implement an open standards policy in Europe.
- FSF fandroids fight to 'free' Android from Google's forepaws Mar 07, 2012
The Register - The Free Software Foundation in Europe is taking a swipe at Android with a campaign to help punters wrestle their phones and data from Google's paws.
The foundation has flagged up seven pieces of software or services it reckons you'll want to use with your Android handset and possibly help develop. These will stop you being “spied on” and give you more freedom, the FSFE says.
While the average punter thinks of "free" as "no cost", the FSFE has a broader concept. It considers "free" software to be programs for which you can get hold of the source code and thus rebuild to your heart's content, safe in the knowledge that you're aware of what your gear is doing. Although Android is billed as open source, not all its source code is available leaving its internal operation a mystery, which gets the FSFE's back up.
According to the group, software and the drivers for most Android devices aren’t freely available, and phones and apps “frequently work against the interests of the users, spy on them and sometimes cannot even be removed”.
- CeBIT 2012: Open source and Linux Mar 05, 2012
The H Open - Open source and Linux will, for the fourth year in a row, have a presence at this year's CeBIT trade show. Free and open source software (FOSS) projects and organisations from around the world will be represented in Hall 2 at the upcoming event, taking place next week from 6 to 10 March on the world's largest fairground in Hanover, Germany. Open Source CeBIT 2012 is organised into three areas: the Open Source Park, the Open Source Project Lounge and the Open Source Forum.
- Open source code matches proprietary for quality Feb 27, 2012
PCA - The quality of open source code is on a par with proprietary code, particularly in cases where codebases are of similar size.
This was one of the key findings of development testing company Coverity's annual Scan report. The company measured the quality of code by comparing defect density - the number of defects per 1,000 lines of code. The average defect density for the software industry is 1.0.
The report found that open source projects that had completed development testing using Coverity Scan had an average defect density of 0.45. This figure is based on analysis of 37 million lines of code from 45 of the most active open source projects in Scan.
In comparison, the average defect density for proprietary codebases was 0.64, based on analysis of 300 million lines of code from 41 proprietary codebases. The average proprietary codebase has 7.5 million lines of code, compared to 832,000 lines for open source projects.
- Canonical Bringing Ubuntu to Android Feb 22, 2012
Datamation - Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu, Linux is launching a new effort that will bring mobile phones and desktops together in a very different type of experience. The new "Ubuntu for Android" effort isn't about running Ubuntu Linux on an Android phone, it's about enabling a new type of converged device.
"Ubuntu for Android is a converged single device that gives a full Android smartphone experience as well as an Ubuntu desktop experience, when docked with a keyboard and monitor," Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical, told InternetNews.com. "We're working with handset manufacturers and mobile network operators to bring this to market."
- Open source software: What is holding back adoption by government? Feb 14, 2012
TechRepublic - Despite the potential benefits of using open source software, use of it by the government is slow to increase.
Back in 2010 the UK government pledged that open source would be given equal consideration as proprietary software when choosing new technology.
And while this sounds like a forward thinking policy, almost identical aspirations were first expressed in a government policy document back in 2002, and have cropped up repeatedly since. Meanwhile adoption of open source by government remains slow.
So what went wrong? Liam Maxwell, the government’s director of ICT futures, admits there is still “not enough” open source being used within government- and that there is still a long road ahead before open source will truly be on a level footing with proprietary software in government.
The government is waking up to open source – it’s just that significant barriers remain: “Open source software is not three guys in a shed anymore. There are a lot of misconceptions about open source but open source is the future model for delivering IT,” said Maxwell at the recent Intellect Regent Annual Conference in London.
- U.K. Government Launches Second Open Standards Consultation Feb 13, 2012
WSJ - The U.K. government’s adoption and support of the use of open standards in its IT infrastructure seems to be proceeding in ways that are open to varying interpretation. To begin with it seemed so straightforward.
In March of last year the government put forward an ICT strategy with an unequivocal commitment to open standards. An initial consultation process on how best to ensure this concluded with a decision to carry on talking.
So a second survey of opinions was launched last week, as TechWeek Europe reports:
- Time to dispel open source myths, says Liam Maxwell Feb 13, 2012
Liam Maxwell, Cabinet Office director of ICT futures, said that open source has grown up and it's time to dispel lingering misconceptions about this technology and development process.
Maxwell told the Intellect 2012 conference in London: "Open source software is not three guys in a shed anymore. There are a lot of misconceptions about open source but open source is the future model for delivering IT."
He was speaking the day before the Cabinet Office opens a three-month period of consultation on open standards to be used in the government's G-Cloud initiative.
- Open Source Initiative affiliates announced at FOSDEM Feb 07, 2012
The H Open - Open Source Initiative (OSI) board member Simon Phipps has announced a group of affiliate organisations who will be providing advice to the OSI as it reforms itself from a self appointed board-based organisation eventually to a member-based organisation. The affiliates, announced during Phipps' presentation at FOSDEM in Brussels, are the Apache Software Foundation, Creative Commons, Drupal, the Eclipse Foundation, FreeBSD, Joomla (via Open Source Matters), KDE, the Linux Foundation, the Mozilla Foundation, Plone, Sahana and Wikiotics. The OSI is also undertaking an anonymous survey to gauge what a future personal membership of the OSI should mean in practice.
Delegates of the affiliates will be coming together first to finalise an affiliate agreement for the OSI; from then, the OSI board will seek and consider advice from those affiliates. Phipps explained that this process will allow the OSI to move into a transitory phase which could see the organisation operating on new bylaws by as soon as 2013, but in all likelihood, 2014.
- NH Encourages Use of Open Source Feb 07, 2012
New Hampshire has enacted a law to encourage the use of open source software and open standards:For all software acquisitions, each state agency, in consultation with the department of information technology, shall:(a) Consider whether proprietary or open source software offers the most cost effective software solution for the agency, based on consideration of all associated acquisition, support, maintenance, and training costs;(b) Except as provided in subparagraphs (d) and (e), acquire software products primarily on a value-for-money basis, based on consideration of the cost factors as described in subparagraph (a);(c) Provide a brief analysis of the purchase decision, including consideration of the cost factors in subparagraph (a), to the chief information officer;(d) Avoid the acquisition of products that do not comply with open standards for interoperability or data storage; and(e) Avoid the acquisition of products that are known to make unauthorized transfers of information to, or permit unauthorized control of or modification of a state agency’s computer.
- Open source software should be used to secure public sector systems, IT bosses are told Feb 03, 2012
Speaking at the government ICT conference in London, Ian Levy, technical director at the Communication Electronics Security Group (CESG) said local authorities need to realise the organisation supports the deployment of non-proprietary software for security purposes.
He highlighted Bristol City Council as an example of one authority that had gone ahead with this approach, despite having originally believed it was prohibited from buying open source.
"They thought they had to use Novell or Microsoft and the CESG would not have supported its use of open source," Levy said on Tuesday.
- The open source behind gov.uk revealed Feb 02, 2012
The H Open - While the UK government's plans for wider adoption of open source have been uneven in their application, the new beta version of the gov.uk web site should give proprietary software vendors and contractors pause for thought, as it is almost entirely built on or with open source
- IBM calls time on Symphony OpenOffice fork Jan 31, 2012
The Register - IBM's putting its weight behind an Oracle-backed OpenOffice push rather than follow Google, Red Hat and others on an independent effort.
The latest version of IBM's Symphony collaboration suite, version 3.0.1, will likely be the last based on the computing and services giant's fork of the OpenOffice code base.
IBM is instead putting its "energy" into the Apache OpenOffice project, having contributed the Symphony code base to the Apache Software Foundation.
Ed Brill, director of messaging and collaboration for Lotus software, has blogged here: "We expect to distribute an 'IBM edition' of Apache OpenOffice in the future."
The decision sees IBM lining up against Google, Ubuntu-shop Canonical Red Hat, Novell and others who've thrown their hats in with The Document Foundation.
- Microsoft's magic bullet for Azure: Red Hat Linux Jan 30, 2012
The Register - If Microsoft loves money, and it does, then making Linux publicly available on its proprietary Azure cloud can't come soon enough.
Last June Microsoft ran a build of Linux on its Windows Azure compute fabric in the labs of the Server and Tools division, which is responsible for its cloud.
What flavour of Linux? Red Hat, sources close to the company now tell The Reg.
That's a critical pick given North Carolina's favourite brand of Linux continues to reign as the market's number-one distro and is a preferred choice for Windows shops when going Linux.
- 10 Things to Look Forward to in LibreOffice 3.5 Jan 24, 2012
PCW - Hard on the heels of the release of the bug-fixing LibreOffice 3.4.5 last Monday, the Document Foundation on Friday published a release candidate version of LibreOffice 3.5, which will be the next major version of the office productivity software.
- Extremadura to move all of its 40,000 desktops to open source Jan 24, 2012
Joinup - The administration of Spain’s autonomous region of Extremadura is moving to a complete open source desktop, replacing the current proprietary desktop platform, confirms the region's CIO, Teodomiro Cayetano López. The IT department started a project to install the Debian distribution on all 40,000 desktop PCs. "The project is really advanced and we hope to start the deployment the next spring, finishing it in December."
The project makes it Europe's second largest open source desktop migration, between the French Gendarmerie (90,000 desktops) and the German city of Munich (14,000 desktops).
- Linux is getting too big Jan 18, 2012
FudZilla - Linus Torvalds is getting a little worried about the size of the Linux kernel source code.
In the last three years or so the source code size has grown by 50-percent and the latest version is more than 15 million lines long. Linux started with 10,000 lines of code, and version 1.0.0 grew to 176,250 lines by March 1994. Less than ten years ago Linux 2.4 had about 2.4 million lines of code.
- "An Open-Source World"? Where's The Open Source? Jan 12, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - If we are to believe the early signs, 2012 may well be the year that British schools finally start to address the continuing shame that is ICT teaching. As I and many others have noted, the current approach essentially consists of sitting people in front of Microsoft Word and Excel and making them learn a couple of commands on the menus. It seems that the message has finally got through to the powers-that-be:
Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum. Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11 year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch. By 16, they could have an understanding of formal logic previously covered only in University courses and be writing their own Apps for smartphones.
(Or they might just sit down and write a new operating system kernel as someone else did a few years ago.)
Those words - amazingly - were pronounced earlier today by the UK Education Secretary Michael Gove as part of a long-awaited speech about the future of ICT teaching in the UK.
- AT&T, Oracle Bet On Open Source Clouds Jan 12, 2012
Seeking Alpha - Which has more value in the cloud, open source code or an open API?
Rackspace (RAX) is betting on open source code with its CloudStack project. Amazon (AMZN) has long bet on open Application Program Interfaces (APIs) with its Amazon Web Services. Analyst Matt Asay says it's the API that matters.
Oracle this week placed a big bet on open source by naming Cloudera its supplier of big data software for its Oracle Cloud Appliance.
- NASA Launches Agency-wide Open Source Initiative Jan 06, 2012
fedscoop - NASA has launched a new website, located at code.nasa.gov, aimed at centralizing the agency’s open source software efforts and creating a collaborative environment to discuss issues related to its use.
The site, currently in “alpha” phase, will be developed over a three-stage process and include a directory of development projects, points of contacts, online discussion forums and help “guide internal and external groups in open development, release, and contribution.”
- Of Open Source and the European Commission Jan 05, 2012
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - At the end of last year I reported on the worrying signs of vacillation from the UK government over its support for truly open standards. At least it's relatively straightforward to keep tabs on what's happening in Blighty; Europe is another matter - I find the labyrinthine bureaucracy and its digital shadow pretty hard to navigate. So I was pleased to come across the following page, entitled "Strategy for internal use of OSS at the EC".
For a start, it has this useful summary of the Commission's gradual adoption of open source solutions:
- Misplaced priorities hampering UK government uptake of open source Jan 04, 2012
opensource.com - According to a computing.co.uk article entitled Open Source: The government's commitment so far, most of the IT technology used in the UK government is still proprietary and comes from single vendors.
Open source adoption by government agencies in the UK is progressing, but is still being hindered by a focus on "free as in gratis." Decisions based on cost-of-acquisition alone ignore the other real and more important values offered by open source, which are derived from "free as in freedom."
- Security 'misunderstandings' remain open source barrier Jan 03, 2012
UKauthorITy - Cultural barriers and misunderstanding of security risks remain the biggest blocks to the public sector's wider implementation of open source, the civil servant tasked with boosting open source has told UKAuthority.com.
Robin Pape, chief information officer for the Home Office and the senior responsibility officer within government for open source and open standards, said open source software is still not being given appropriate consideration when government bodies evaluate software options.
"The primary reason open source isn't considered is cultural - government customers and its leading suppliers have largely been happy to procure proprietary commercial software and have not been aware of, or had experience with, open source alternatives". Pape said in an email interview with UKauthorITy.com. "This is changing, and we can encourage this change by recognising that an "intelligent customer" function requires both a technical and commercial understanding of open computing, as well as a difference in how the market is engaged."
Another significant reason is misunderstanding of how the government IT security process applies to open source, he said. "We have worked to clarify the security risks around open source, and the good news is that on balance open source is no more or less secure closed than closed source software. This means that open source software cannot be excluded from an options analysis for security reasons alone."
- Apple wins US Android patent ruling against HTC Dec 22, 2011
ZDNet -Apple has won a narrow victory over HTC in one of the companies' patent battles, with the US International Trade Commission ordering HTC to stop infringing on an Apple patent in its Android smartphones.
The ITC ruling (PDF), announced on Monday after multiple delays, stated that HTC must from 19 April, 2012 stop US imports of devices that infringe on two claims in the '647 patent. This patent covers the functionality where a smartphone user can tap on a link in, for example, an email to initiate a phone call or open a web page.
HTC has claimed the ITC ruling as a victory for itself, as Apple had originally tried to assert 10 patents against HTC, with multiple claims of infringement in many of these patents. In the event, the ITC only upheld two of the four claims Apple was citing in just one of those 10 patents.
- Apache forges ahead with OpenOffice.org suite Dec 22, 2011
InfoWorld - Developer release planned; open source organization asserts trademark protection.
In its new role as steward of the OpenOffice.org open source office suite, the Apache Software Foundation expects to offer an Apache-branded version of the package for developers in 2012. Apache also is carefully guarding its trademarks.
Apache on Tuesday is releasing a statement about its OpenOffice efforts, entitled "Open Letter to the Open Document Format Ecosystem," which notes the planned 3.4 release, tentatively slated for early 2012. Apache has just about completed with code clearance stage of the effort, said Don Harbison of the Apache OpenOffice project management committee in an interview.
- Microsoft will beat Linux clouds at their own game - with open source Dec 19, 2011
The Register - Open... and Shut Amazon may dominate public cloud computing, but not amongst the Microsoft groupies. Microsoft has managed to be an end-to-end cradle-to-grave supplier within the data centre, and is attempting to extend this motherly embrace to the cloud with its Azure platform.
Cracks have recently begun to show in this strategy, however, as Microsoft increasingly turns to open-source technologies like Hadoop to spice up Azure.
Is this a stopgap strategy or a sign of a more open Microsoft cloud?
The signs point to the latter, as Microsoft reaches beyond the Redmond talent pool to make Azure more appealing to the broader developer population. Microsoft's devoted customers, after all, haven't been the fastest moving on cloud adoption.
- Hewlett-Packard embraces its webOS operating system again Dec 12, 2011
The Australian - HEWLETT-PACKARD is making its webOS mobile operating system available to the open source community and will again consider making tablets based on the platform.
HP will take another shot at making webOS tablets, most likely in 2013, Meg Whitman, the chief executive of the world's number one computer maker, said in an interview with technology blog TechCrunch.
HP said it would continue to work on and support webOS, but the software platform will become open source, meaning that developers anywhere can tinker with it as they wish and it will be available for anyone to use free of charge.
"WebOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable," Whitman said in a statement.
"By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices."
- Open Source Total Cost of Ownership 2.0 Dec 08, 2011
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Back in 2006, I wrote a piece for LXer called "A Brief History of Microsoft FUD". This ran through successive attempts by Microsoft to dismiss GNU/Linux in various ways. One of the better-known was a series of "Total Cost of Ownership" (TCO) studies. By an amazing coincidence, these all showed that Microsoft Windows was cheaper than that supposedly cheap GNU/Linux.
Fortunately, people soon cottoned on to the fact that these studies, paid for by Microsoft, were pretty worthless (here, for example, is a great debunking of the kind of FUD that was being put out in 2005.) However, one knock-on consequence of that episode is that TCO studies rather fell from favour.
So it's interesting to see this new report prepared for the Cabinet Office with the title "Total Cost of Ownership of Open Source Software", which has been released under the liberal Open Government Licence for public sector information. Here's the background:
- DWP Confirms 1,000 Open Source Desktops Pilot Dec 05, 2011
eWeek Europe - Microsoft beware: a major UK government department is to trial open source desktops
The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed that it is to pilot a scheme where it will trial 1,000desktops.
News of the scheme was revealed by Mike Truran, customer delivery director at DWP, speaking at the Datacenter Dynamics Convergence conference. “If the pilot works we will take it forward,” Truran reportedly said.
- Suse looking to re-open Linux conversation Dec 05, 2011
TechDay -Nearly eight months on from its purchase by global software company The Attachmate Group, Linux distributors Suse are beginning to implement changes to the way their business is run, including re-opening lines of communication with resellers and end users.Although hugely respected in the world of developers, Linux hasn’t yet made the impact on businesses it deserves, according to Hamish Miles, Suse’s newly-appointed regional sales director for ANZ."We need to change the conversation into a business conversation,” Miles says."We need to try to avoid the IT department in the conversation, and talk to the finance guys.”
- Google’s open source boss defends Android security isssues Dec 02, 2011
TechWatch - Google hits out at security industry, which replies citing lack of app review process.
As yet more research uncovers further security threats in Android devices, Google’s Chris DiBona has accused security firms and anti-virus vendors of being nothing more than “charlatans and scammers” who create scare stories in order to sell their software.
Angry at what he sees as an attack on open source software in general, DiBona posted a rant on Google+ about why open source has little to worry about from viruses.
This has led to a number of reports that suggest that Google’s approach to the Android malware problem is nothing more than burying their head in the sand, something which worries the security community greatly.
- Free, distributed search with YaCy 1.0 Dec 01, 2011
Karsten on Free Software - Today we published a press release about a distributed Free Software search engine: YaCy 1.0. At FSFE, we don’t usually do press releases about new software. But this time, it’s about a broader point: The rise of distributed systems.
There are more and more Free Software projects that replace centrally run services with distributed ones. For example, identi.ca (running on status.net) offers a Free Software alternative to Twitter; diaspora and many others provide a free, distributed alternative to Facebook; and so forth.
Now YaCy fills a significant gap: A free, distributed search engine.
- Open source: Is the government doing enough? Nov 29, 2011
Computing - The promotion of open source and open standards is a key tenet of the government's ICT strategy, but did the publication of the Open Source Procurement Toolkit earlier this month and recent government initiatives provide the boost needed to increase understanding and procurement of open source within the public sector?
Open source is currently in use across several government departments, with Drupal powering the Cabinet Office website and some DirectGov services, Transport for London's Oystercard using an open source infrastructure, and the Department of Health using open source to work with EU partners.
In addition, some departments are creating their own open source technologies, such as the Department for the Climate Change, which has created FoxOpen. However, most of the technology used by government remains proprietary, with the Department for Work and Pensions, for example, still using comprehensive proprietary products from single vendors such as IBM.
The government's open source policy was established in 2004, but CIO for the Home Office and the senior responsibility officer for open source and open standards, Robin Pape, acknowledged in conversation with Computing that there had been limited progress towards a truly level playing field for open source. "This meant that opportunities for better value solutions were being missed," he said.
- Does Free Software cost jobs? Nov 28, 2011
ComputerWorld - Last year I generated quite a response when I suggested that the major expense of school ICT, namely the human resources required to keep it all going would be cut and cut again. The model of school ICT that had come to pass required huge amounts of skilled technical support.
Well everything has changed. Schools have stopped spending and the firms that sold to them are making big redundancies as illustrated by the cuts imposed recently by RM plc. My college has frozen all posts and within ICT the only post to be unfrozen is a web developer post. All of our ‘mission critical’ apps are available through the web (which is how I survive using only my Chromebook) so it seems obvious to me that the conventional model of Domains and their technical armies will naturally wither away.
I am feeling a little uneasy. As part of an Open Source company my mantra to education was ‘reduce overheads, reduce support, save money, do more for less’...well the message got through ... right alongside the recession. Trouble is we did not create a single long term job during this crusade. The company I was with has no-one now employed in any aspect of education.
All the developments in education are web-based and mostly leveraging globally available free stuff much of which indeed owes its existence to free, open source software. Virtually none of it represents a single British job.
- Ubuntu popularity falls as Linux Mint flourishes Nov 25, 2011
The Inquirer - Ubuntu is losing popularity according to Distrowatch, with Linux Mint growing at a tremendous pace.
The Distrowatch Linux Distribution popularity tracker was updated earlier today showing Canonical's Ubuntu slipping to fourth place, with Linux Mint increasing its lead at the top. For many years Ubuntu had topped the Distrowatch popularity list, but in the past year it has slipped to second place and now is ranked fourth.
Ubuntu's drop to fourth place sees Red Hat's Fedora move up to second place and OpenSUSE take third. Not only has Linux Mint retained its position at the top of the Distrowatch charts, according to the web site its popularity has increased by over 66 per cent in the last month.
- Has open source outgrown the Apache Way? Nov 24, 2011
ITWorld - Organizations like the Apache Software Foundation, the Linux Foundation, and the Free Software Foundation have long been a part of the open source and free software ecosystem. But some in the FLOSS community are beginning to wonder if these venerable organizations need to change in order to keep up with the changing demands of FLOSS.
- Googler: Android antivirus software is scareware from 'charlatans' Nov 21, 2011
CNet - Chris DiBona - Google's open-source software leader has lashed out at companies selling antivirus software for mobile devices including Google's Android operating system, calling them "charlatans and scammers."
Chris DiBona, Google's open-source programs manager, unleashed his tirade after seeing a press report about "inherent" insecurity of open-source software, which is used not just in Android but also Apple's iOS. He argued that Android, iOS, and Research in Motion's BlackBerry OS don't need antivirus software.
"Virus companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you BS protection software for Android, RIM, and, iOS," DiBona said on Google+. "They are charlatans and scammers. If you work for a company selling virus protection for Android, RIM or iOS, you should be ashamed of yourself."
- Joomla! Named Top Open Source Content Management System Nov 16, 2011
MarketWatch - Joomla, one of the world's most popular open source content management systems (CMS) used for everything from websites to blogs to Intranets, today announced Joomla has won the Packt Publishing award for the top open source CMS. Now in its sixth year, many consider the Packt Open Source Award as a top honor for an open source project. Joomla won the award based on a combination of public voting and input by a panel of judges consisting of open source luminaries.
- German Court Rules That Free Software Can Be Modified as Users Wish Nov 14, 2011
PCW - A major challenge to the principles of free software was thrown out of a German district court on Tuesday.
German DSL router vendor AVM had attempted to stop Cybits, which produces children's Web-filtering software, from modifying any part of the firmware used in its routers, including a key piece of Linux-based free software.
Both companies use the Linux kernel, which is licensed under the General Public License (GPL). In order for the Cybits filtering program to work, it needs to alter certain parts of this kernel (removing some updates that were added by AVM). AVM claimed that changing the kernel infringed AVM's copyright.
However, in its ruling the court apparently sided with Cybits, saying that users of embedded devices with pre-installed free software have the legal freedom to make, install, run and distribute modifications to this free software.
- CESG asserts security of open source software Nov 09, 2011
Qamar Yunus of CESG, the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance, made the assertion in outlining the guidance the organisation has produced on the subject at the EHI Live event in Birmingham.
"There was a myth being circulated around the SIs, saying you can't use open source software in government as it's not secure," Yunus told the conference, referring to the systems integrators that account for large amounts of government ICT spending.
To counter this, the Cabinet Office asked CESG, which works within GCHQ, to produce guidance on the subject. The result is already available to users of the Government Secure intranet, and will be published on the Cabinet Office website in the next couple of weeks.
"That document clearly states there is no difference between open source and proprietary software. That's one myth busted," Yunus said.
- Open-source Proponents Blast Proprietary Software in Dutch Schools Nov 08, 2011
PCW - Dutch education authorities have decided to throw out their government's open standards policy and instead lock in to Microsoft proprietary software for years to come, according to open-source advocates.
Marja Bijsterveldt, the Netherlands' secretary of education, said that she was unwilling to force open standards on educational institutions, sparking an outcry from open-source advocates who say that Dutch students using free software or devices without Silverlight-support will find themselves locked out of schools' online systems.
The open standards policy was approved by the Dutch Parliament in 2007, but has not been fully implemented. Now, free software advocates are starting a new battle to make the use of open standards mandatory for all publicly funded institutions.
- Cabinet Office publishes open source procurement toolkit Nov 03, 2011
The Guardian - Department hopes to dispel myths around open source with new online toolkit.
The Cabinet Office has published an open source procurement toolkit for the public sector on its website.
It said the purpose is to ensure that there is a level playing field for open source and proprietary software and that some of the myths associated with open source are dispelled.
The toolkit includes six documents: All About Open Source – including FAQs; ICT Advice Note - Procurement of Open Source; Procurement Policy Note on Open Source; OSS Options; CESG Guidance on Open Source (this site will only open for users who have previously registered with a .gsi.gov.uk email address); and Total Cost of Ownership.
The options document contains details of different IT functions such as servers, databases, application development, networks and business applications.
- Apple open sources its ALAC lossless audio codec Nov 01, 2011
The H Open - Apple has announced the release of its ALAC lossless audio codec as open source. The Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) is used to compress the size of digital audio files without losing any of the original information, making a decoded ALAC stream "bit-for-bit identical to the original uncompressed audio file".
Similar to other lossless codecs like FLAC, files are typically reduced to approximately 50 per cent of their original size. File formats such as MP3 and AAC are considered to be "lossy", in that converting to them results in the loss of some fidelity while providing much better compression.
- Open Source Software: The Silent Threat at the Heart of the Cyber Security Crisis Nov 01, 2011
Huffington Post - Today, the government launches its cyber security conference following the 'disturbing' number of attacks suffered by government systems. It's good that they recognise there is a serious problem here - though I suspect it's because they know the average voter might suddenly start to care about tech issues following the recent revelations. As soon as the papers get wind of stories about 'hacking', people are bound to ignore the bland reality in favour of an imaginary thriller movie, possibly starring William Hague in a full-length leather trench coat.
Indeed, according to the ICO annual track, protecting personal information ranks as the joint-first public social concern, equal to crime prevention. This is something which is extremely important to a lot of people, and the government are aware that they need to do more.
However, for all that this signals a step in the right direction, the conference - and discussions about online security in general - need to recognise a deep-seated issue in the way we do business and store information online. I'm referring to the popularity of open source software, currently favoured by a range of e-commerce business and governmental services thanks to low associated costs and apparent convenience.
- Is Microsoft Firefox's last, great hope? Oct 28, 2011
ComputerWorld - Mozilla has faced considerable criticism for its decision to release a customized version of Firefox in which the default search engine and home page is Microsoft's Bing. But if Mozilla is going to survive, that's exactly what it needs to do, because with declining market share and a potential rift with Google, Microsoft may be Mozilla's last, best hope.
The version of Firefox, called Firefox with Bing is based on Firefox 7.1. Neither Microsoft nor Mozillas is commenting on the financial terms of the deal, but you can be sure that Microsoft is paying Mozilla a pretty penny.
The non-profit Mozilla Foundation receives almost all of its revenue from contracts with search providers --- 98% of all of its revenue in 2010 came that way, according to Computerworld. And most of that money comes from Google. Computerworld says that in 2008, 88% of search provider revenue for Mozilla came from Google.
- Mozilla, Microsoft debut Bing-ed Firefox Oct 27, 2011
ComputerWorld - Just weeks before Mozilla's lucrative contract with Google comes up for renewal, the open-source developer launched a customized version of Firefox that uses rival Microsoft's Bing search engine.
Microsoft also touted the new Firefox, saying that it had teamed with Mozilla because users "told us to make it even easier to use Bing in Firefox."
- Business gives open source thumbs-up Oct 24, 2011
ITWeb - Around 50% of surveyed companies claim that vendor-supported open source software provides either the same or better features and benefits than proprietary software.
This is the key finding in this year's ITWeb open source survey, administered in conjunction with Linux Warehouse, which attracted more business management respondents than last year's survey.
The majority of respondents voted overwhelmingly that open source is either the same or better than proprietary in terms of features, speed performance, ease of use, tools and utilities, documentation, technical support, cost of ownership, scalability and ease of change
- The Future of OpenOffice.org: How Not to Write a Press Release Oct 19, 2011
The Standards Blog - Andy Updegrove - Since 2005, I see that I have written over 227 blog entries about ODF (I say more than, because the very earliest got lost in an earlier platform migration). Throughout the greatest part of this six year period, OpenOffice was the poster child ODF implementation - the one with the most users, the most press attention, the most corporate support - tens of millions of dollars of it, from Sun Microsystems. Of course, there were other impressive implementations, both open source and proprietary alike. OpenOffice, though, was always the default ODF implementation referenced by the press.
But the long-stalled acquisition of Sun by Oracle brought uncertainty, and ultimately abandonment. Along the way, the much neglected community of OpenOffice contributors felt the strain, finally forking as a result. This gave the new project - LibreOffice, hosted by The Document Foundation, a new non-profit created for that purpose - an early head start in regaining lost ground. The Document Foundation and LibreOffice today enjoy the enthusiastic support of a growing community that has already released it's own updated version of the original OpenOffice code. And then, at long last, the legacy code base, too, gained a new lease on life, when last June Oracle offered, and the Apache Foundation accepted, ownership of the code and the OpenOffice trademark, into the Apache Incubator.
With the Apache Foundation providing a new home, the question in many peoples' minds was whether the bruised and abused remnant of the OpenOffice project would be able to get back on its feet, dust itself off, and regain its prior importance in the marketplace. And also, what would this mean for LibreOffice?
Last week, the Apache Foundation issued a press release meant to address these questions. How successful was it? Well, let's just say that when it comes to public relations, the Apache Foundation is a very good open source developer. A fair summary of the press release is that it's a hodge podge of statements, some opaque, others unnecessary, and some hopelessly confused. In other words, just when OpenOffice could use a clear, concise statement of what has been accomplished since June and what the project hopes to accomplish next, we get something with little information, much confusion, and no indication of what to expect when.
For those that wish to form their own conclusions, the press release is reproduced in full at the end of this blog entry. For those that don't, here's my summary of what the Apache Foundation has to say about the state and future of OpenOffice:
- The Apache Software Foundation Statement on Apache OpenOffice.org Oct 18, 2011
PRNewswire - FOREST HILL, Md., Oct. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- On 1 June 2011, Oracle Corporation submitted the OpenOffice.org code base to The Apache Software Foundation. That submission was accepted, and the project is now being developed as a podling in the Apache Incubator under the ASF's meritocratic process informally dubbed "The Apache Way".
OpenOffice.org is now officially part of the Apache family.
The project is known as Apache OpenOffice.org (incubating).
Over its 12-year history, the ASF has welcomed contributions from individuals and organizations alike, but, as a policy, does not solicit code donations. The OpenOffice.org code base was not pursued by the ASF prior to its acceptance into the Apache Incubator.
The Apache OpenOffice.org Podling Project Management Committee (PPMC) and Committer list are nearly 10 times greater than those of other projects in the Apache Incubator, demonstrating the tremendous interest in this project.
As with many highly-visible products, there has been speculation and conjecture about the future of OpenOffice.org at Apache. More recently, destructive statements have been published by both members of the greater FOSS community and former contributors to the original OpenOffice.org product, suggesting that the project has failed during the 18 weeks since its acceptance into the Apache Incubator.
Whilst the ASF operates in the open –our code and project mailing lists are publicly accessible– ASF governance permits for projects to make information and code freely available when the project deems them ready to be released. Apache OpenOffice.org is not at risk.
As an end-user-facing product, OpenOffice.org is unique in comparison to the other nearly 170 products currently being developed, incubated, and shepherded at the ASF. Considered to be "ingredient brands", countless competing Web server, Cloud computing, data handling, and other solutions behind the products serving millions of users worldwide are, unbeknown to most, "Powered by Apache".
And we're OK with that.
- Office Suites: LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org? Oct 18, 2011
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - The office suite has occupied a very strange position in the world of open source. As a key software tool used by practically everyone on a daily basis, it was vital for free software to be able to offer one. And yet what came to be the leading office suite - OpenOffice.org - was widely recognised as deeply unsatisfactory. Its early versions were barely usable, and even in its later incarnations it was hard to get enthusiastic about it.
That was largely a function of the way that it had come into being, starting as the closed-source application StarOffice, and then being open-sourced by Sun, which had bought the product, largely in an attempt to irritate Microsoft. Licensing issues meant that OpenOffice.org never really became a true community project. As a result, there was no real passion behind its development, and it showed.
Things were made even worse when Oracle bought Sun. It soon became clear that the former cared even less than the latter about making OpenOffice.org a vibrant and successful open source project, and the announcement of The Document Foundation and the new LibreOffice - effectively a fork - was probably inevitable at this point. Here's its stated mission:
- LibreOffice plans ports to iOS, Android, cloud Oct 18, 2011
The Register - The Document Foundation, which is developing the LibreOffice software suite, has demonstrated the business software working entirely in the browser for cloud applications, and has announced that it will also port it to Android and iOS.
Both the cloud version and the iOS and Android ports are unlikely to see the light of day before 2012 or possibly 2013, but the announcements seem intended to emphasize how far ahead LibreOffice developers are working.
The French government has also thrown its support behind the LibreOffice project, specifying the software for all its future Windows systems, and transitioning 500,000 existing Windows users from OpenOffice. In a single step this increases the Windows installed base of LibreOffice by five per cent, and that figure looks likely to grow after the Paris Metropolitan council district announced it would give away 800,000 USB drives containing the code. ®
- Apache insists OpenOffice is alive, well, and flush Oct 17, 2011
The Register - The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has sought to downplay fears over the future of OpenOffice, following a rather dramatic statement from original members of the team, begging for donations.
Shane Curcuru, one of the mentors on the Apache OpenOffice podling, told The Register that the ASF was continuing development of the OpenOffice code after receiving both the software and full international trademarking rights from Oracle. In addition, the number of contributors is rising, and the code is still receiving additions from Oracle employees on an unofficial basis.
“The OpenOffice podling is doing fine. We have plenty of commiters and project management committee members working on OpenOffice and have voted on new committee members,” he said.
- Bristol City Council - Statement - open source Oct 14, 2011
Bristol City Council - Bristol City Council Leader Barbara Janke said: "Bristol is leading the way on promoting open source solutions and supporting our strong creative media and digital sector. We held a very productive meeting with the Cabinet Office yesterday, and they were able to reassure us that there are no security or accreditation issues that should hold us back from pushing ahead with our open source agenda.
"This is very good news and was warmly welcomed by the IT companies present. Our aim is to do all we can to see a higher proportion of money from our IT procurement ending up in the local economy and supporting the city's innovative software companies.
"We have now been given the green light by the Cabinet Office to push ahead with this open source agenda and they have promised to work closely with us on this issue over the next few months, and more widely in our efforts to support our thriving creative and digital sector as we develop the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone."
View the minutes from the meeting on the Bristol Futures website.
- Has IBM kicked OpenOffice.org to the curb? Oct 14, 2011
ITWorld - Those are the words of Stefan Taxhet, CEO of Team OpenOffice.org e.V., the German non-profit responsible for managing the fundraising for the Apache OpenOffice.org project. Taxhet made this statement in a press release Tuesday that announced new fundraising efforts for the project, which is apparently in need of a cash infusion.
Team OpenOffice.org's impassioned press release seemed to finger Oracle's donation of OpenOffice.org to the Apache Project and the subsequent cutting off of funding as the culprit behind their current financial woes. Curiously, the same statement also heralded the release from Oracle as a great liberating event for the project, which currently is under incubator status within the Apache Software Foundation (ASF).
But here's where I am confused: where exactly is IBM in all of this?
- Hard-up OpenOffice whips out begging-cap website Oct 12, 2011
The Register - Hamburg-based open-source project OpenOffice will embark upon a major fundraising campaign this week to defend itself against a looming shutdown.
On Wednesday a new website will be launched with many donation options, spokesperson Andreas Jäger told The Register: "The organisation will also look for a major investor, but one that fits the product."
After the split with their main sponsor, Oracle, in June, the brains behind OpenOffice decided they wanted to continue as an association. A sudden death of OpenOffice would be disastrous, the organisation says. Their software is used worldwide, not only by private individuals, but also by many administrations and small and medium-sized businesses; the package is downloaded 1.5 million times a week.
- Bristol Council gets open source go-ahead after CESG discussions Oct 10, 2011
Computer Weekly - Bristol City Council has been cleared to build an IT infrastructure using open source software after a visit from CESG, the cyber security arm of the UK intelligence services.
Complaints about CESG's obstruction of open source software were branded "folk-law" at a meeting the security body held in Bristol yesterday with council leader Barbara Jenke and others including Bristol IT chiefs Paul Arrigoni and Gavin Beckett, and executives from the Cabinet Office.
The security body, an arm of GCHQ, denied its Code of Connection (CoCo) and guidance on information assurance prevented public bodies using open source software.
- UK public administration's use of open source growing in importance Oct 06, 2011
OSOR - Open source is a topic rising in importance for public administrations in the United Kingdom. Very recent examples of public administrations turning to this type of software include city and county councils, hospitals and government departments, and politicians increasingly recognise its importance.
Last March, the cabinet unveiled its new ICT strategy, in which the use of this type of software is one of the ten key themes. To tackle the failing of big and complex IT projects, and to increase sharing and reuse of IT and data, the cabinet says that it wants to 'create a level playing field for open source software'. A second theme is to 'impose compulsory open standards, starting with interoperability and security'.
Among the most recent reports of public administrations implementing open source solutions is the Oxfordshire County Council, moving its web site to Drupal, an open source system for managing web sites. The H-Online, an IT news site focussing on open source last week reported that several hospitals are considering the use of an electronic patient record based on open source components. A third example is the department of transport, that earlier this month signed a contract to start hosting some of its web applications on open source.
- As LibreOffice Turns One, a Peek Ahead at What's to Come Oct 06, 2011
A lot has happened along the way since the fork was first launched out of concern over Oracle's plans for the OpenOffice.org suite, which it inherited when it acquired Sun early last year. Not only is LibreOffice now the office suite of choice on pretty much all the leading Linux distributions, but millions of Windows and Mac users have embraced it as well. In fact, there are now an estimated 25 million people worldwide using the software, according to the Document Foundation, including close to 10 million Windows users.
- Number of open source applications on government desktops doubles in Malta Oct 06, 2011
eGov - The number of open source applications installed by default on desktop PCs of public administrations in Malta has increased by 47 percent, between December 2009 and May 2011, says Michel Bugeja, enterprise architect at Malta's Information Technology Agency (MITA). "The biggest increase is on tools to handle PDFs, for creating diagrams, for mind mapping and for project management."
The agency maintains a list of applications, both open source and proprietary, that it evaluates for use by governments. The most recent open source applications it added are Open Office (office productivity suite) Dia (diagram drawing) Gimp (image editing) and Openproj (project management).
- LibreOffice Is One Oct 04, 2011
ComputerWorldUK - Simon Phipps - Once framed as an impetuous fork, LibreOffice has become the standard-bearer for the former OpenOffice community.
Once in the mists of time, I was the head of open source at Sun Microsystems. One of my chief delights in that role was the OpenOffice.org project. I attended the Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Monterey, California in 2000 where the project was created out of a product Sun had acquired the previous year, StarOffice. I watched as it grew in polish and capability. I also helped as it submitted its ideas to the OASIS standards group for an "Open Office Document Format", a project that evolved into ODF and changed the world of enterprise document handling.
- Happy Birthday LibreOffice! Sep 30, 2011
Moved by Feedom Powered by Standards-Charles-H. Schulz - It’s been one year, and I still can’t believe time has gone so fast. I would like to thank everybody who has been making the LibreOffice Project what it is today, and what it will become in the years to come. To the first founders and to the newcomers these days, to the former OpenOffice.org community and to the LibreOffice community; to the users who put their confidence in us; to our families, friends and colleagues who supported us: thank you for a wonderful year on your side. We are now one year old and we owe it to you. If anything’s been proven in these incredible 365 days, it’s that community works. I’m not referring to community “management”, I’m talking about people standing up for what they believe is the right thing to do, and getting it done. It’s about software freedom and perhaps about freedom in general too. It’s about realizing that no one will step up and set you free if not yourself. One of the greatest Americans of all times, Benjamin Franklin, used to say that freedom is not something that’s given to you, it is something you take. The LibreOffice Project is fundamentally about that and not about anyone’s corporate roadmap.
- Openness: An Open Question Sep 29, 2011
ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Last week I went along to OpenForum Europe, where I had been invited to give a short talk as part of a panel on “Tackling “Societal Challenges” through Openness”. Despite my attendance, the conference had some impressive speakers, including the European Commission's Neelie Kroes and Google's Hal Varian.
Unfortunately, I missed both of these because I was still travelling then, but fortunately, the ever-efficient European Commission machine has put Kroes' speech online.
This began with some comments about standards:
- Bristol Council's open source plan thwarted by security clearance problems Sep 29, 2011
Computer Weekly - Bristol City Council's open source push has suffered another series of set-backs that point a finger of blame at CESG, the cyber security arm of government intelligence unit GCHQ.
Leaders at the local authority claim that the need for CESG security certification of e-mail systems effectively means the council has no choice but to buy Microsoft.
Senior Cabinet Office IT leaders have been asked to help as Bristol's faltering open source strategy, still showing little progress after a year, highlighted problems besetting the coalition government's own open source policy.
- Linux group mulls anti-Microsoft campaign Sep 28, 2011
ZDNet - Plans to enable a secure boot on Windows 8 machines have drawn the ire of Linux Australia's membership after Microsoft revealed plans recently that would require all alternative operating systems (including earlier versions of Windows) to carry Microsoft security keys to be compatible with the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) and its secure-booting procedures.
This would make it impossible to install alternative operating systems like Linux, or even older versions of Windows, if the OEM doesn't bundle the secure keys with new OS releases and the hardware vendor doesn't enable the secure-boot feature to be switched off.
- MySQL founder savages Oracle’s move to 'open core' Sep 22, 2011
The Register - One of the key founders of the MySQL project, Ulf Michael ‘Monty’ Widenius, has savaged Oracle’s decision to start selling commercially exclusive extensions to MySQL.
In an extensive blog post, Monty said that the so-called "open core" model – where open source code is sold alongside proprietary add-ons – was not the original intention of MySQL and that the setup devalues the open source project. The full open source nature of the project was what made MySQL so popular, he explains, and Sun’s earlier attempts to move to an open core model were squashed.
- Is Android really free software? Sep 20, 2011
The Guardian - Google's smartphone code is often described as 'open' or 'free' – but when examined by the Free Software Foundation, it starts to look like something different.
In the free/libre software movement, we develop software that respects users' freedom, so we and you can escape from software that doesn't. By contrast, the idea of "open source" focuses on how to develop code; it is a different current of thought whose principal value is code quality rather than freedom.Thus, the concern here is not whether Android is "open", but whether it allows users to be free.
- Open source skunkworks at EHI Live 2011 Sep 16, 2011
EHI Acute - EHealth Insider is bringing a new feature to EHI Live 2011: a healthcare skunkworks that will give visitors the chance to ask questions about how open source software can be used to solve healthcare problems.
The skunkworks is being run in conjunction with Malcolm Newbury, an open source consultant and co-chair of Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise UK.
Vendors who have signed up to support the feature will demonstrate their own solutions and identify, build and showcase solutions to the challenges that EHI readers throw at them.
- Government Wants Open Standards To Be Royalty-Free Sep 15, 2011
eWeek - Francis Maude has confirmed that it will adopt royalty-free standards, to deliver a level playing field for open source
Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, has clarified the government’s policy on seeking open standards when procuring IT equipment, following confusion over whether “open standards” means Royalty-Free (RF) or Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND).
Technologies available under RF conditions, can be used freely, while those under FRAND terms require users to pay a “reasonable” royalty. The HTTP protocol is free, for instance, while technologies for 3G communications are FRAND.
The distinction is important, because it is difficult for thecommunity to implement technologies available under FRAND; the FRAND terms require a licence to be paid, while the open source licence requires source code to be distributed freely.
- Android, Microsoft Could Spark Smartphone Fragmentation Sep 13, 2011
eWeek - Google Android and Microsoft's lawsuit efforts could poke manufacturers to embrace mobile operating systems like webOS, fragmenting the industry further.
In the course of promoting Windows Phone, Microsoft executives have seized on Android’s supposed fragmentation issues, arguing that Google’s platform is in serious danger of splitting itself across too many versions on too many different devices.
Google CEO Larry Page has embarked on a quest to refocus his company on its core properties, a strategy that could rein in Android’s fragmentary impulses. Nonetheless, Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility, combined with Microsoft’s attempts to squeeze Android manufacturers into “royalty agreements,” could end up fragmenting the smartphone industry in startling and unexpected ways.
- UK.gov works on YET ANOTHER open-source push Sep 08, 2011
The Register - TransferSummit Yet another government definition for the term "open standards" is incoming because the Home Office isn't satisfied with the current wording of its so-called Action Plan.
The department's IT wonk Tariq Rashid confirmed at an open source forum in Oxford yesterday that the government had been "lobbying against" the current definition for open standards, and added that a new version was set to be published by the end of 2011.
At the TransferSummit event he spoke about how a policy to encourage open source, open standards and re-use of software across central and local government had been mulled over since 2004 without any real action kicking in. And that's despite several redrafts.
An optimistic Rashid, arguably just like his predecessors, is convinced that that attitude is finally changing.
"There seems to be a different feel and there's a lot of interest from politicians," he said.
- Cabinet Office shuns open-source in IT-tracking deal Aug 23, 2011
The Register - The Cabinet Office and its IT underlings have exhaustively championed the need for more OSS across government since the ConDem Coalition was cobbled together in May 2010. Nonetheless Francis Maude's department has just snubbed open source players by awarding a contract to a proprietary software provider to help establish how much money the government spends on technology.
Readers need only cast their minds back to a damning report published by the public administration select committee (PASC) last month that lambasted over-reliance on big IT firms in Whitehall over many years.
The cross-party group of MPs, whose committee is chaired by Tory politico Bernard Jenkin, labelled the IT-buying culture in central government as an "obscene" waste of taxpayer money.
- Romanian government tender prohibits open source Aug 17, 2011
The H Open - According to a report on OSOR.eu, the EU's Open Source Observatory and Repository, an IT procurement tender issued by the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI) explicitly bans the use of open source software in any offer made in response. The tender concerns the development of an "Information System of Romanian Criminal Records (Rocris)", with a budget of approximately 2.85 million euros.
- Google's future handset rivals praise Motorola deal Aug 16, 2011
CNET - Four of the biggest makers of Android phones--Samsung, HTC, LG Electronics, and Sony-Ericsson--have lined up to praise the patent protections they expect from Google's planned acquisition of Motorola.
Google published the four companies' eerily similar supporting quotations on its Web site today not long after Google CEO Larry Page announced the $12.5 billion deal. Samsung and HTC already are the target of Apple patent infringement suits.
Unsurprisingly, each phone maker's leader steers well clear of the fact that the company they rely upon for a popular mobile operating system now expects to become a direct competitor. Google's ambition to run Motorola Mobility as a new division must be raising a lot of hackles, and perhaps is igniting a re-evaluation of where Microsoft's Windows Phone OS fits into the mobile ecosystem.
- UK Digital Future to Fail Without Government Focus Aug 15, 2011
PR.com - The Government needs to invest in training developers in open source platforms if the country is to stand a chance of competing with its American and European counterparts in digital development.
Open source software is extremely valuable for web companies in the UK but many are experiencing skills shortages that are stalling their growth.
Experts in software development came together at a round table discussion held by hosting provider UKFast. They agreed that open source frameworks are crucial for the continued growth of the UK's technology and digital industries and support from Government should be more forthcoming.
- Bristol Council open source: the allegations in full Aug 12, 2011
Computer Weekly - Bristol City Council's failure to deliver on its open source strategy is beginning to make the coalition government's manifesto commitment on open source look incontinent.
The council's own open source strategy is looking ineffectual. Bristol Council cabinet committed to an open source infrastructure a year ago - as long as it was doable. It ordered a pilot but that was discredited by an allegation that it had been fixed. Now the council has refused to release the suspect pilot reports under Freedom of Information, it is time to look at those allegations in full.
- Apple's 'bogus' patents will 'strangle' Android: Google Aug 09, 2011
Sydney Morning Herald - Google's chief legal officer has launched a blistering attack on competitors, including Apple, for attempting to stifle innovation by using "bogus patents" to target Google's Android partners including Samsung.
David Drummond, who is also Google's senior vice-president, wrote in an explosive blog post that the patent wars were pushing up the prices of Android smartphones and tablets. This was part of a "hostile, organised campaign" being waged by Apple, Microsoft and others to "strangle" Android, which Google provides free of charge.
- Google's top lawyer rips Apple, Microsoft and Oracle Aug 04, 2011
CNET - Google's top legal officer today posted a scathing indictment of adversaries Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle for pursuing "bogus" patent claims that may serve to drive up the costs of phones using Google's Android mobile operating system.
Google Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond paints a picture of rivals envious of Android's success, noting that more than 550,000 Android devices are activated daily.
"But Android's success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, and other companies, waged through bogus patents," Drummond writes in a post under the heading "When patents attack Android."
- Mozilla challenges Android with new web OS Aug 01, 2011
Computerworld - Mozilla has announced an audacious project to build an open source smartphone and tablet operating system to rival the increasingly cosy three-way domination of Android, Apple's iPhone and Windows Phone.
Under the name of Boot to Gecko (B2G), the new OS will take the Gecko HTML rendering engine of Mozilla's Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client and build around it a wholly open source project capable of running atop Android-compatible hardware thanks to re-use of a few nuggets of low-level code from that OS.
- Oracle buys Ksplice Jul 25, 2011
The Register - With 7,000 companies paying for support contracts for Oracle's Enterprise Linux clone, the software giant is, whether anyone likes it or not, a player in the Linux racket. And Oracle just made its competitive position in the Linux space a lot more interesting with the acquisition of a startup called Ksplice.
- LibreOffice Conference Paris, France 12th-15th October, 2011 Jul 20, 2011
The first annual LibreOffice project's meeting, the LibreOffice Conference, will be held in Paris from October 12th to 15th. It will be the event for those interested in the development of free office productivity software, open standards, and the OpenDocument format generally, and is an exciting opportunity to meet Community members, developers and hackers.
- OpenOffice: Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride Jul 18, 2011
The Standards Blog - Andy Updegrove - Poor OpenOffice. It’s been open source for so long, and yet its adoption and market importance has always lagged far behind that of peer software like Linux – despite the fact that it’s free and implements a standard (ODF) aggressively promoted by some of the most powerful technology countries in the world. Can this ever change?
If yesterday’s announcement by IBM is any indication, the answer is “not likely,” despite the fact that Big Blue’s latest commitment to OpenOffice, on its surface, sounds like good news. The reason? It’s too little, and too late. Here’s why.
- IBM bequeaths Symphony code to Apache Jul 15, 2011
ComputerWorld - Hoping to further sharpen OpenOffice's competitive viability against Microsoft Office, IBM is donating the code of its Symphony open source office suite to the nonprofit Apache Software Foundation.
Apache could fold this code into its own open source office suite OpenOffice, on which Symphony was based. In June, Oracle donated the OpenOffice suite to Apache.
"Prior to Apache's entry, there really hasn't been enough innovation in this area over the past 10 years," said Kevin Cavanaugh, who is the IBM vice president for business and technical strategy in collaboration solutions. "It's been constrained because we haven't had a true open source community with a mature governance model."
- Bristol restarts open source pilot Jul 14, 2011
Computer Weekly - Who can have stepped in to rescue the pioneering open source pilot at Bristol City Council after it collapsed amid alarming allegations that Boo-Hissstems Integrator Computacenter had skewed the scheme's outcome to favour its chum Microsoft?
- IT Industry Welcomes Govt's Draft Policy Of Adopting Open Source Jul 14, 2011
EFY TImes - The Indian Government's draft policy to go the open source way has been welcomed by the IT professionals all across the nation. The kind of response EFYTimes.com got for the story, speaks volumes about the fact that the industry is excited about the move planned by the Government of India.
The Government has been talking of the open source-based systems for long, but for the first time it is working on a policy on the use of operating systems and device drivers in all new e-governance projects. According to the latest draft policy on e-governance, all new projects must work on open source operating systems only. The draft policy on Device Drivers For Procurement Of Hardware For E-governance says, “Government of India (GOI) endeavours to provide e-governance services, which are technology-neutral, cost effective, interoperable and vendor-neutral. GOI Policy on open standards is a step towards meeting this objective in the development of e-governance applications.” The policy shall apply to all the new e-governance projects as well as the existing ones.
- Google's Open Source Chief Talks Shop in Interview Jul 13, 2011
Ostatic - In the grand scheme of things, although not everyone would call it "an open source company," Google contributes more open source code to the world than almost any other company. This is one of several points that the company's open source program manager, Chris DiBona, makes in an interview with derStandard.at. As one of the key people who oversees how Android, Chrome and other projects advance and are released in new versions, his perspectives on these projects and Google's overall stance toward open source are notable. Here are some of his choice comments from the interview, including how prevalent Linux usage is at Google.
DiBona notes that Google defaults to the Apache license with its open source releases, and explains why:
- Brazilian government signs up to develop OpenOffice and LibreOffice Jul 12, 2011
The H Open - The Brazilian government has signed a letter of intent to work with both The Document Foundation and the Apache OpenOffice.org community to develop the Office Suite platforms maintained by both communities. The letter asserts that the ODF standard is already a guarantee of interoperability within the government. As Brazil is one of the biggest users of both LibreOffice and OpenOffice with an estimated million public computers running the free/open source office suites, the govenment aims to make the national contribution to the projects more effective.
The letter(ODT document) was signed on July 1st, during the International Free Software Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. It was signed by Marcos Mazoni of the Brazilian government's Free Software Implementation Committee (CISL); Sady Jacques, for SoftwareLivre.org; Jomar Silva, for the Apache OpenOffice.org community; and Oliver Hallor, for the LibreOffice Community.
- Open Source In the Bavarian Government of Munich, Germany: Interview Jul 08, 2011
Muktware - Anton Borisov interviews Oliver Altehage, Change Manager for LiMux-Project to understand the options and deployment of GNU/Linux and open source in the Bavarian Government of Munich, Germany.
- CISL and communities strengthen FLOSS office suites Jul 07, 2011
Software Livre - On Friday, July 1, at the International Free Software Forum (FISL) in Porto Alegre - Brazil, the Brazilian Government's Free Software Implementation Committee has signed, along with the communities of the LibreOffice and OpenOffice projects, maintained respectively by the The Document Foundation and Apache Foundation, a Letter of Intent which signals the mutual interest of cooperation with the FLOSS office suites.
The proposal is to strengthen the cooperative position of the Brazilian State with the evolution of the FLOSS office suites, due to its importance within public institutions. The adoption of these tools represents a major success of migrating from proprietary platforms to open source software in all governmental spheres. It's estimated that more than 1 million public computers operate with these solutions, which represents savings on software license fees and national investment in technology.
- Department of Justice's migration to OpenOffice a success story Jul 06, 2011
OSOR - According to an online magazine aimed at users of the Linux Operating System, since 2008 the Austrian justice ministry has migrated several thousands of desktop PCs to OpenOffice, in a "complete success story" worth highlighting.
- LibreOffice 3.4.1 provides stable new features for every user Jul 04, 2011
LibreOffice - The Internet, July 1, 2011 – The Document Foundation announces the release of LibreOffice 3.4.1, the second version of the newer 3.4 family, targeting both private individuals and enterprises. LibreOffice 3.4.1 fixes several bugs that affected the previous version, and can be safely deployed for production needs by most users.
LibreOffice 3.4.1 can be downloaded from the following page: http://www.libreoffice.org/download/.
LibreOffice is the free power-packed Open Source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base. Support and documentation is free from our large, dedicated community of users, contributors and developers. You, too, can also get involved! See what LibreOffice can do for you »
- Czech environmental agency relying on open source and open standards Jun 30, 2011
OSOR - Cenia, the Czech Republic's Environmental Information Agency, is relying on a broad variety of open source solutions, says its director Jiří Hradec. "To provision services that vendor independence, we use open source wherever possible."
Hradec was one of the speakers at a workshop on interoperability and standards, organised by the European Commission, that took place on 16 June in Brussels.
The agency's director argued in favour of a common European approach for spatial data applications. "That will foster competition and increase the reuse of applications developed for public administrations." He also wants the EC to extend its licence for open source software, the European Union Public Licence (EUPL), so that it can be used for publishing government data.
- Open source isn’t an innovation killer Jun 24, 2011
Gigaom - While open standards give customers options, execs from Dell, VMware and Facebook at GigaOM’s Structure conference in San Francisco Wednesday said that open source wouldn’t be the death of innovation or revenues in cloud software and hardware development. However, businesses that wish to survive will need to provide value over and above the commoditized aspects of open computing platforms.
- Open barbarians poised to storm Apple's gate Jun 22, 2011
The Register - Open...and Shut Open source has a tendency to cannibalize and commoditize – and not just surrounding proprietary projects. As described by researcher Dirk Riehle, open source involves a process of continuous innovation and commoditization as communities form to wring inefficiencies from software markets. Interestingly, this same phenomenon happens all the time in the wider software world, and it forecasts diminished importance of closed platforms like Apple's iOS in favor of more open platforms like Android.
Riehle's research plays off the excellent analysis of The 451 Group's Matt Aslett on the rise of permissive licensing in open-source communities. As Aslett points out, GPL licensing has been in relative decline compared to Apache- and MIT-licensed projects.
The reason, as Riehle writes, is clear: "Projects that don't choose a permissive license are at a Darwinian disadvantage over those that do because the later can receive contributions from a broader set of enterprises than the former." Not so surprisingly, this holds true even for source code repositories: GitHub has been beating SourceForge, Google Code, and other source code repositories by being even more open.
Openness matters. Even in the land of open-source software, where openness is the default.
- The real reason most source is closed? Open is hard Jun 22, 2011
The Register - Matt Asay - Open...and Shut As much as 95 percent of the world's software is written for internal, enterprise use, rather than by vendors for sale, a point famously made by Eric Raymond in The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Much of this software, in turn, has no proprietary value for the enterprises that develop it. So why isn't the world deluged with enterprise-written open-source software? Why do so many CIOs gladly use open source but not contribute to it?
Because open source is hard. Really, really hard.
- Oracle seeks 'billions' with Google Android suit Jun 20, 2011
The Register - Oracle is seeking "billions of dollars" in damages from Google with its sweeping copyright and patent infringement lawsuit over the use of Java on Android.
According to an Oracle court filing released on Thursday, Google attempted to hide the scope of Oracle's damages claims and other related information from public view. But Larry Ellison and company want this out in the open. "Oracle’s damages claims in this case are in the billions of dollars,” the Oracle filing reads, and these claims, it says, are "based on both accepted methodology and a wealth of concrete evidence.”
- As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial Jun 17, 2011
ZDNet - After nearly a decade, Microsoft’s reign as a monopoly is over.
The consent decree in U.S. v. Microsoft expired last month, officially removing Microsoft from antitrust scrutiny by the United States Department of Justice. And the latest real-world data on web usage confirms that Microsoft’s once-dominant position in the world of personal computing is crumbling.
For the past four years, I’ve collected semi-annual snapshots of web usage from Net Market Share. The data for the first half of 2011 tell an ominous story for Microsoft. See for yourself:
- OpenOffice.org: Breaking up is hard to do Jun 16, 2011
ITWorld - The proposal to shift OpenOffice.org into the Apache Foundation as an incubator project was approved in a vote over the weekend by a wide margin of 41-5. But the shiny new Apache OpenOffice.org "podling" won't come without birthing pains.
Rob Weir, ODF Architect for IBM, praised the vote outcome in his Monday blog entry, but then took the time to skewer critics of the move to Apache.
Weir's comments were directed at a "small but vocal minority of non-Apache members who disagreed with the proposal attempt to derail it." Weir stated that all opinions were welcome, but didn't seem too thrilled with the idea that some dissenting opinions were actually lobbying against the Apache vote: "The day open source advocates decide to [smother] a new project in its crib, because they personally favor a slightly more established project is the day that FOSS dies."
- Google Launches Open Source Chromebooks Jun 16, 2011
Ostatic - Today (Wednesday 15th) Google announced the immediate availability of their long awaited “Chromebooks”, and they might just be the best competitor to Microsoft and Apple yet. Based on a solid Linux core, Chrome OS is built to be the fastest way to get to the web. Boasting an 8 second boot time, ease of use, and a familiar interface, Linux has finally found its place on the desktop.
- OpenOffice, LibreOffice and the Scarcity Fallacy Jun 15, 2011
Rob Weir - As you’ve probably heard, the proposal to move OpenOffice.org to the Apache Software Foundation was approved by a wide margin. Volunteers interested in helping with this project continued to sign up, even during the 72-hour ballot, giving the project 87 members, as well as 8 experienced Apache mentors, at the end of the vote. The volunteers signed up included an impressive number of programmers from OpenOffice.org, RedOffice and Symphony, as well as QA engineers, translators, education project experts, OOo user forum moderators and admins, marketing project members, documentation leads, etc. The broad range of support for this new project, from volunteers as well as voters, was very encouraging.
- The two faces of UK open source Jun 14, 2011
ITWorld - There are two perceptions about open source in the United Kingdom's government.
First, there is the public-facing perception: that national and local government organizations have launched multiple open source deployment and integration projects over the years that sometimes seem to have trouble actually getting off the ground. But then another open source project is launched--sometimes by the same local governments, and all seems right in the world again.
Then there are the glimmers of what appears to be a darker truth about how open source is really handled in the UK. Glimmers like Minister of Parliament (MP) John Pugh's 2007 statement at the launch of the National Open Centre (NOC): "Open source has enemies, and its enemies are very, very close to government." (The story of NOC and its ultimately fizzled launch was detailed last summer.)
More recently, the CEO of an open source vendor out and out accused one of the systems integrators tasked with implementing the Bristol City Council's latest open source project of deliberately fumbling the project in order to keep the integrators' connections with Microsoft secure and their own wallets fat.
- Statement on OpenOffice.org's move to Apache Jun 14, 2011
FSF - When OpenOffice.org moves to a non-copyleft license, there's a ready replacement for people who want a productivity suite that does more to protect their freedom: LibreOffice.
Oracle, IBM, and the Apache Software Foundation jointly announced last week that OpenOffice.org would become an official Apache project. OpenOffice.org is an important piece of free software, and many of its supporters suggest that this change will give them more control over the project's future direction. However, users and contributors should be aware that, as part of this transition, it will become easier for proprietary software developers to distribute OpenOffice.org as nonfree software.
- Oracle wants big cut of Android damages as Google's IP headache gets worse Jun 09, 2011
ZDNet - Oracle is seeking major damages in its lawsuit against Google over Android in a move that reflects how the search giant’s intellectual property headaches may just continue to get worse. Should Google lose this IP battle, Android cuts would go to Oracle and Microsoft.
Florian Mueller highlighted a heavily redacted Google response to a damages argument made by Oracle expert witness Iain Cockburn, a Boston University professor. Cockburn argued that Google would owe unspecified damages if Android was found to infringe on Java.
- Is Linux on the desktop dead? Jun 08, 2011
Techradar - Since the turn of the century, pundits have been telling us that this will be the year of desktop Linux - and unless something really extraordinary happens, this will be the 11th year that it hasn't happened.
While the open source operating system has made significant inroads into the server and mobile markets, its desktop market share is much the same as it was a decade ago: about 1 per cent. Netbooks gave Linux a shortlived boost, but the world of PCs still largely belongs to Microsoft - with one Unix-spun exception.
Apple's Mac OS X is doing what Linux advocates long dreamed of - it's actually taking market share from Microsoft. Can Linux learn anything from Apple, or does open source need its own Steve Jobs? In short, can Linux win?
- Novell's open source legacy – wake up, little SUSE Jun 08, 2011
The H Open - Novell's unrequited romance with Linux and free software is over. Having completed its $2.2 billion takeover, Attachmate is dividing the spoils. Novell and its legacy networking business will survive in Utah. NetIQ will inherit Novell's identity and security management solutions, and SUSE has been given autonomy and control of Novell's open source projects from its base in Nuremberg.
Mono has been cast adrift, and the worst aspects of Novell's attempt to sell off a large part of its patent portfolio to a consortium led by Microsoft have been scuppered by the US Department of Justice and the German Federal Cartel Office. But there are still questions left to answer.
SUSE is the only mainstream Linux company to have been owned by a proprietary software company – if we exclude the short history of Corel Linux – and the awkwardness has shown.
- Statements on OpenOffice.org Contribution to Apache Jun 06, 2011
Trond's Opening Standard - "With today's proposal (Jun 3rd 2011) to contribute theOpenOffice.org code to The Apache Software Foundation's Incubator, Oracle continues to demonstrate its commitment to the developer and open source communities. Donating OpenOffice.org to Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open, and well established infrastructure to continue well into the future. The Apache Software Foundation's model makes it possible for commercial and individual volunteer contributors to collaborate on open source product development." -- Luke Kowalski, vice president, Oracle Corporate Architecture Group.
- An Invitation to Apache OpenOffice Jun 03, 2011
An Antic Disposition - Rob Weir - As you have probably heard, Oracle has followed through with their earlier promise to “move OpenOffice.org to a purely community-based open source project.” OpenOffice is moving to Apache.
- Oracle drops OpenOffice on Apache, shuns forkers Jun 02, 2011
The Register - Oracle is shunting OpenOffice onto the Apache Software Foundation, sidelining the original OpenOffice community that forked of the project as LibreOffice last year.
On Wednesday, Oracle said that its contribution demonstrates Oracle's commitment to the developer and open source communities. "Donating OpenOffice.org to Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open, and well established infrastructure to continue well into the future," the vice president of Oracle's corporate architecture group, Luke Kowalski, said in a statement. And the move was immediately welcomed by both Apache and IBM, one of OpenOffice's biggest beneficiaries through its use of Open Document Format (ODF).
But the move cuts off the coders who, in September 2010, unhappy with Oracle's treatment of the project, created LibreOffice under the aegis of The Document Foundation. At the time, Novell, Red Hat, Canonical, the Open Source Initiative, the Free Software Foundation (FSF), and Google backed LibreOffice and The Foundation.
- Microsoft's lucrative new revenue stream? Android. May 31, 2011
CNET - The irony's enough to make your head explode: Microsoft makes more money from Android than it does Windows Phone. This according to Citi analyst Walter Pritchard, who says $5 from the purchase price of every HTC Android handset sold ends up in Microsoft's pockets.
- Does Amazon "owe" open source? Maybe a little May 31, 2011
NetworkWorld - When most people look at Amazon, they probably see a retail giant that's constantly growing and reaching into new markets. But at the core of almost all of Amazon's success is open source — yet you rarely see Amazon participating and contributing. What's up with that?
Glyn Moody raised this point on Wednesday, and I have to say he's spot-on. Moody compares Amazon and Google — companies of similar size, that both depend heavily on Linux and open source. Yet Google is an active participant and contributor in open source, and Amazon largely sits on the sidelines.
- EU/UK: FSFE appeals for information on OSS deployments May 25, 2011
OSOR - On 18 May 2011, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) launched an appeal for users to supply information on recommended open source software applications for use in the UK public sector. The FSFE’s intention is to write a paper which shows how widely deployed the applications are, thereby making them as attractive as possible to UK public sector procurers and suppliers.
- Google slips open source JPEG killer into Gmail, Picasa May 24, 2011
The Register - Google has announced that Gmail and Picasa as well as its Chrome browser are now using WebP, the image compression format it open sourced last fall in an effort to replace the aging JPEG standard.
With a Friday blog post, the company also said that it has made several improvements to the technology since it was first unveiled.
When Google open sourced WebP last September, it claimed the new image format would reduce the size of web images by a good 40 per cent. The format is based on VP8, the video codec Google acquired with its purchase of On2 Technologies early last year and promptly open sourced as part of the new media format known as WebM.
- DOD Releases Open Source Development Guide May 24, 2011
InformationWeek - The Department of Defense (DOD) has released a landmark guide for using open-source and open-standards technology to develop software in the U.S. military.
The 68-page guide, "Open Technology Development: Lessons Learned and Best Practices for Military Software," aims to "help U.S. government personnel and contractors implement open technology development (OTD) for software within government projects, particularly in defense," according to the guide, which has been posted in its entirety on the Scribd website and is available for free download.
- Open source .NET mimic rises from Novell ashes May 17, 2011
The Register - The founders of Mono – an effort to build an open source version of Microsoft's .NET platform – have launched a new company around the project, just fourteen days after they were laid off by new Novell owner Attachmate.
The new company is known as Xamarin, and according to a blog post from Mono founder Miguel de Icaza, it will offer new commercial .NET offerings for iOS and Android; continue the development of both Mono and Moonlight, an open source implementation of Microsoft Silverlight; and "explore Moonlight opportunities" involving mobiles and Apple's Mac App Store.
- Skype vs VOIP alternatives May 13, 2011
The H Open - Glyn Moody - I presume that Microsoft will integrate Skype into its Windows Phone 7 offerings in an attempt to provide it with some unique features over rival mobile operating systems. That will certainly be popular with users, but the mobile network providers might not be so happy, and that could be problematic given the low market share of Windows Phone 7: Microsoft has very little clout here. That might stymie its plans for Skype in this regard – or give yet more impetus to competitors like Android and the iPhone.
Interestingly, the press release announcing the purchase addressed explicitly the issue of how Microsoft would treat rival platforms: “Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms.” To a certain extent, it has to: Skype is all about connectivity, and so the more clients, the more powerful the platform. However, there's plenty of wiggle room in Microsoft's statement: it doesn't promise to support all existing clients, and there are various levels of support.Full article (2 pages)
- Companies trying, not buying, Office alternatives May 10, 2011
CNet - Companies are actively looking for Microsoft Office alternatives such as Google Apps, but so far their interest hasn't dented the productivity suite's dominance, a Forrester Research study released today said.
"Adoption of alternatives relative to Microsoft Office is paltry, but interest remains high, with more than a quarter of companies actively looking at or experimenting with Web-based alternatives," Forrester said in the study. "While the free versions of these programs make it easy for companies to try, concerns over user acceptance and compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats continue to hinder broader deployments."
- Oracle wins round one in bare-knuckle Android patent suit May 03, 2011
The Register - Oracle has won an early round in what is sure to be an epic battle against Google over Android's use of Java.
This week, Judge William Alsup issued a "claims construction" order in which he sided with Oracle on the definition of four out of five patent terms that will help determine outcome of the company's lawsuit against Google and Android. On the fifth term, he sided with neither company, choosing to lay down his own definition. Oracle and Google have until May 6 to respond to the order.
- Farewell, Novell Apr 29, 2011
The Register - The sale of former local-area networking powerhouse Novell to Attachmate has been completed.
The $2.2bn sale was first announced in November, and it ends the independent life of a once-dominant network operating system vendor. In later years, its original market snuffed out by Microsoft, the company had become the home of the SUSE Linux distribution, only to find its new market overtaken by the likes of Ubuntu.
- Windows still rules OS roost, but Linux and Mac growing faster, says Gartner Apr 28, 2011
Linux Devices - The worldwide market for operating system software grew nearly eight percent to $30.4 billion in 2010, led by Microsoft Windows with 78.6 percent market share, says Gartner. Yet Linux was the fastest growing server OS, and Apple's Mac OS had the fastest growth on the desktop, says the research firm.
- Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision Apr 27, 2011
ZDNet - All good patent trolls know that you sue in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX). It’s known for its pro-patent judges that speed patent cases along their docket to the patent holders’ victory. That’s not just me and my anti-patent buddies speaking. No less a figure than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has described the EDTX as a “renegade jurisdiction.” It’s no wonder than that patent troll Bedrock chose the EDTX as its battlefield for its attack on Google, and a host of other companies, over a violation of its patent, which appears to be used in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
In the case, the EDTX jury on Bedrock Computer Technologies, LLC vs. Google, Inc., awarded Bedrock $5 million. That’s chump change by patent troll standards, but Bedrock has also sued, among others, Yahoo!, MySpace, Amazon, PayPal, Match.com and AOL There’s money in those companies and Bedrock wants it!
- Google fined $5m over Linux patent row Apr 26, 2011
BBC - A judgement by a Texas jury against Google could have major implications for the search giant and the open source world said experts. The internet titan was found guilty of infringing a patent related to the Linux kernel and fined $5m (£3.2m).
The software is used by Google for its server platforms and could also extend to its Android mobile platform. The kernel is at the core of the open-source operating system meaning this verdict could be far-reaching.
- Germany Clears Novell Patent Sale to Microsoft, EMC, Apple Apr 21, 2011
The Bonn-based Federal Cartel Office cleared the deal after the companies agreed to accommodate antitrust concerns raised by the German regulator and the U.S. Department of Justice, the office said in an e-mailed statement today.
The patent sale was linked to the acquisition of Novell by Attachmate Corp. The sales agreement was cleared only after the companies retracted their original plan and refiled it with new terms, according to the statement.
- Oracle's OpenOffice Move May Be Too Little, Too Late Apr 19, 2011
PCW - It's hard to say for certain what prompted Oracle to do an about-face on Friday and release OpenOffice.org to the community. After all, it was only a few short months ago that the company made clear its intentions to keep control of the productivity suite itself, spurring the creation of the Document Foundation and its LibreOffice fork.
LibreOffice, incidentally, is thriving in the meantime, having received support from the likes of Canonical and Red Hat and inclusion in their respective Linux distributions. Just a few hours after Oracle's announcement, in fact, the Document Foundation released LibreOffice 3.4 Beta 1.
Nevertheless, Oracle now plans to move OpenOffice.org "to a purely community-based open source project and to no longer offer a commercial version," it wrote in its press release.
- Oracle Gives up on Commercial Open Office Apr 18, 2011
The Register - Oracle announced Friday that it will no longer sell a commercial version of the Open Office productivity suite, and that the open-source OpenOffice.org will be transitioned to "a purely community-based open-source project."
"Given the breadth of interest in free personal productivity applications and the rapid evolution of personal computing technologies, we believe the OpenOffice.org project would be best managed by an organization focused on serving that broad constituency on a non-commercial basis," said Oracle Chief Architect Edward Screven in a statement.
Oracle will "begin working immediately with community members to further the continued success of Open Office" and plans to continue supporting standards like ODF (Open Document Format), he said.
- Open source and the sluggish UK public sector Apr 14, 2011
The Register - Confronting their rapidly shrinking budgets, public sector bean counters must imagine that someone somewhere has been casting Chinese curses about living in interesting times. Because when money gets tight, things sure do get interesting.
You would think that at times like these open-source deployments would be the obvious solution. Open source has to be considered for public-sector IT projects and with no upfront licensing costs it ought to be a shoe-in.
But it doesn’t seem to work that way. Jane Silber, chief executive of Ubuntu’s commercial champion Canonical, has a feeling that open source is used as a negotiating tool but that its benefits are not always taken into account.
- OSI fears for Linux if Novell patents land with Apple, Oracle Apr 11, 2011
Channel Register - In buying up a stash of Novell patents, Apple and Oracle could choke rivals in the virtualization, middleware, mobile, and media markets, according to the Open Source Initiative.
German regulators are looking into the proposed sale of 882 Novell patents to CPTN Holdings, Microsoft-led group that also includes Apple, Oracle, and EMC, and OSI president Michael Tiemann has warned that Oracle could use the patents to shut down virtualization innovation in Linux and attempt to shift the market to Solaris - which Oracle acquired through its acquisition of Sun Microsystems.
- 20 Years of Linux down, and the best is yet to come Apr 08, 2011
ZDNet - Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, speaking from a wheelchair, opened the 2011 Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit. This meeting Zemlin said, was for the “leaders of Linux.”
The leaders of Linux aren’t ready to declare victory over Microsoft, Zemlin told me before the presentation, but “We’re beyond the obsession with Microsoft.”
In his presentation, Zemlin amply demonstrated why Linux vendors, developers and users are looking far beyond Microsoft. Zemlin who had had a nasty ski accident, opened his presentation with a clever video celebrating 20-years of Linux history.
- NASA Explores Open Source at Summit Apr 04, 2011
CIO Insight - As the U.S. government explores revamping its IT infrastructure, open source and the help of the volunteer community could be its saving grace.
NASA has a simple, one-word answer for those who have ever asked any of the following questions: Does the U.S. government use open-source software in research, testing and production? Does it develop its own software and work within a community in an open-source manner? And does it distribute open-source software back to the community, once it's been vetted and sanctioned as ready for prime time by federal IT chiefs?
The answer to each of the above, of course, is yes. But legal caveats, fine print and the amorphous character of software itself make it much more complicated than all that.
- UK Government Promises to Go Open - Yet Again Apr 01, 2011
COMPUTERWORLDUK - Glyn Moody - Sometimes it seems like I've written the same story about UK government IT plans again and again. You know the one: after years of empty promises, the UK government assures us that this time is will really open up, embracing open source and openness in all its forms.
Guess what? They're at it again:
- Government puts open source at the heart of its new IT strategy Mar 30, 2011
Computer Weekly - The government has launched its much-anticipated new IT strategy, with open source highlighted as a key part of its plans, and a promise that the coalition is "determined to do things better."
"We want government ICT to be open. Open to the people and organisations that use our services. And open to any provider, regardless of size," said Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.
The ICT strategy report put open source as a purchasing priority,
- Red Hat Proves That Open Source Is Good for Business Mar 28, 2011
PCW - Critics of free and open source software are fond of making the argument that software must be locked up, patented and jealously guarded if it is to serve as the basis for a successful business. Well, Red Hat just refuted such claims in a big way this week with its fourth quarter earnings report, which blew away analysts' expectations and placed the company well on track for billion-dollar revenues in the upcoming year.
- UK is a closed source 'stronghold' Mar 28, 2011
The Register - The UK lags behind the rest of the world in deployments of open source software. Steve George, vice-president of business development at Canonical, believes this is a mistake that compromises not only our economy but also our global competitiveness. In China rural communities are receiving millions of PCs running Linux. In India Ubuntu is the platform of choice for the regional government in Kerala. In France the police force is migrating everything to Ubuntu desktop, and in Andalusia in Spain the operating system sits on at least 220,000 school desktops
- Cutting the cost of innovation Mar 24, 2011
The Register - Open source software might be free to download, but it ends up costing as much as traditional software because of the complexities of supporting it, or inflexible licensing structures. Or so the argument goes.
You would expect to hear this from Steve Ballmer, Larry Ellison or any of the other grand old men of proprietary software. It is more surprising when you hear such thoughts being aired by the head of corporate services at Canonical, the commercial operation behind Ubuntu-flavoured Linux.
- Linus on Android headers: claims "seem totally bogus" Mar 23, 2011
The H Open - The recent uncertainty cast over Android's Bionic library and its use of Linux kernel headers "seems totally bogus", according to Linus Torvalds. In an interview with Brian Proffitt at ITWorld, Torvalds said "I haven't looked at exactly what Google does with the kernel headers but I can't see they they'd want to do anything fundamentally different from glibc in this respect". He also pointed out that he has said making use of the kernel's system call interfaces, as described in the headers, does not "in any way result in a derived work as per the GPL".
- GNU Free Call Announced Mar 22, 2011
GNU Telephony - GNU Free Call is a new project to develop and deploy secure self-organized communication services worldwide for private use and for public administration. We use the open standard SIP protocol and GNU SIP Witch to create secured peer-to-peer mesh calling networks, and we welcome all participation in our effort.
- What Happened to the Obama Open Source Initiative? Mar 22, 2011
IPWatchdog - At least initially, President Obama was keenly interested in exploring how the United States government could use open source software rather than rely on proprietary software. President Obama was so interested in pursuing open source software solutions that on his second day in Office he asked Scott McNealy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, to lead his open source charge. In fact, President Obama reportedly asked McNealy to prepare a report on how the federal government could employ open source software, but as yet, some 26 months later there has been no mention of the report or across the board government adoption of open source software.
- NASA Set to Host Open Source Summit Mar 15, 2011
WebProNews - One of the leading scientific agencies in the United States, if not the world, clearly values open source software. WebProNews reported on their partnership with RackSpace in July 2010 seeking to expand upon RackSpace’s technology used for cloud hosting and computing, and now NASA has announced they will be hosting an Open Source Summit on March 29th and 30th. The Summit, to be held at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, will seek to bring together leading engineers and developers from NASA with key figures in the open source community. NASA hopes that a standard can be created that will facilitate more of NASA’s work to be open sourced, as well as streamlining implementation of open source into NASA.
- IE: Computer Service Board switches to open source software Mar 11, 2011
OSOR - Ireland’s Local Government Computer Service Board (LGCSB) is moving to open source software in a move forecast to have major migration ramifications, it was announced on 18 February 2011.
- Government takes action on open technology Mar 10, 2011
The Guardian - Graham Taylor, chief executive officer of Open Forum Europe, applauds the government's recent moves on open source and open standards.
It's been an interesting few weeks in regard to open source. From being what in the past I classified a 'laggard' (that was the polite form) in Europe, the UK government is now intent on matching its Action Plan on Open Source, Open Standards and Re-use with....well, action! And in doing so it has shamed some other European countries that have been content to limit deliverables to a paper strategy.
- Parliamentary inquisitors turn their gaze on 'fat cat' suppliers Mar 10, 2011
UKauthorITy.com - The alleged "fat cats" of the computer industry are emerging as the focus of attention of a parliamentary inquiry into public sector IT failings. At the opening evidence session, members of the House of Commons Public Administration Committee repeatedly probed witnesses with allegations that IT suppliers have shaped government policy to their own ends and blocked the adoption of open source technology.
- Can OpenBravo challenge incumbent ERP with open source? Mar 09, 2011
ZDNet - Can OpenBravo open source ERP compete with the established, proprietary vendors? The absolute numbers would suggest no but a deeper dive suggests otherwise.
- Ban the Microsoft virus, government told Mar 01, 2011
Computer Weekly - Microsoft web software is like a computer virus in government computer systems and must be banned, a meeting of the British Computer Society's Open Source Specialist Group heard last week.
- Vint Cerf, On The Internet's Challenges Feb 28, 2011
The Huffington Post - The Internet browser is the most susceptible to viruses. The browser is naïve about downloading and executing software. Google is trying to help by releasing the Chrome browser as open source. Open source platforms allow people to find problems and fix them. This is a big issue -- giving people more protection against (infected) websites. Right now, the biggest challenge is the browsers that allow the malware to get into computers and infect them.
- Top 59 Open Source Websites Feb 28, 2011
Linux Planet - This time we've done something a little different and made a list of top open source Web sites.