Article Source Andy Updegrove’s Blog
December 23, 2009, 7:50 am

Yesterday a very small company won a very big victory against a very large software vendor. The small company is i4i, a Canadian company that claimed that the large company had not infringed its patent accidentally, but knowingly and willfully, after engaging in discussions relating to the very same technology in question. For the small company, the functionality in question represented its main product, so when the big company bundled the same technology for free in its own product, i4i’s business was gutted. If you’ve been following the story already, you know that the big company is Microsoft.

Yesterday’s big victory was the affirmation by an appellate court of the trial court’s finding of willful infringement. Under the ruling on appeal, Microsoft had been required to remove its infringing code within 60 days, and also pay i4i $290 million in damages due to the lost sales and other harm it had caused. Here are my thoughts on what just happened, and what’s likely to happen next.

Read the Rest Here

Article Source Linus Torvalds’s Blog
December 21, 2009, 8:11 am

It’s not all that often that we encounter things from Finland here in Portland. So imagine my surprise when we’re on our way to our weekly date-night with Tove, and our baby-sitter is gushing about this adorable and wonderful Finnish YouTube video.. She apparently have been watching it three or four times a day for the last few days (weeks?), laughing hysterically.

I’m intrigued by this notion, so I look it up, and notice that I am very late to an internet phenomenon. The thing in question is Armi & Danny’s “I Want to Love You Tender”, which has apparently been a big hit on youtube for several years now.

Now, people who aren’t from Finland may not realize the whole depth of that video. To an outsider, it may look like some highschool musical number with particularly inept dancing. It’s funny, yes, but you go on to watch keyboard cat and dramatic chipmunk.

But to somebody from Finland, the first reaction is “I recognize that tune”. The second reaction is “Oh, it’s them!”. That’s not some inept highschool musical number, that’s one of the most beloved Finnish entertainers ever! Ok, so the version you hear in Finland is in Finnish, and the above is the English version – and Finns back in the seventies weren’t really all that good at English. That explains some of it.

When I grew up, the Swedes had ABBA and Björn Borg. The Finns had Armi ja Danny. Really.

Now I just find myself wishing that we’d have Finnish meal-pouches with musical accompaniments. “Rudolf in a Bag” MRE’s (reindeer meat with lingonberries) with Armi and Danny on BluRay.

Although I’m not sure I could take the concentrated awesomeness that is “I Want to Love You Tender” in glorious HD. Maybe it’s safer in that low-quality YouTube version.

Article Source Andy Updegrove’s Blog
December 19, 2009, 8:29 am

If you’re like me, you became fully aware of free and open source software only gradually, rather than suddenly and all at once. In my case, the process was somewhat schizophrenic, because I was personally involved, through my clients, in some of the evolutionary steps of FOSS itself, and only realized in retrospect how they fit into the whole picture.

Over the past few months, I’ve been reading several books on the early days of FOSS (I hope to review them later), each based upon extensive interviews with those that made FOSS happen. That’s been especially revealing, because in recent years I’ve gotten to know many of the same individuals, and didn’t always appreciate the roles that they had played in the early days of FOSS.

Recently, I tried to put all of this together, and more, into a single article that could serve as an introduction for people that might have an incomplete knowledge of FOSS, or might not fully appreciate all of its many dimensions. While no single article could ever hope to fully capture such a complex topic, perhaps the concise overview that I’ve put together can fill in some of the blanks for people who have only a general idea of what FOSS is all about. And hopefully it will also provide the incentive for them to want to learn more (I’ve provided a brief bibliography at the end for that purpose).

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After five years as CEO of Canonical Ltd., Mark Shuttleworth is stepping down from that role, as current Canonical COO Jane Silber steps up as the new executive leader of the popular Linux distribution vendor.

The changeover is starting now, and will be effective on March 1, 2010.

Outside observers might get more than a little jolt at the news, but in reality Shuttleworth and Silber have shared many of the same responsibilities leading Canonical since Silber joined the company in 2004. This shift represents a definite change, but not a radical one.

As COO, Silber’s primary focus has been delivering execution of the strategic visions of Shuttleworth as CEO, she explained in a phone briefing earlier today. As CEO, Silber will capitalize on her strengths as a operational leader to focus Canonical on their current strategic goals, while Shuttleworth will provide strategic support as he focuses on product design and development.

Both executives strongly emphasized that the new leadership will not represent a major shift in strategy for Canonical: don’t look for the company to suddenly focus solely on enterprise business at the expense of other aspects of its business. Silber and Shuttleworth have been leading Canonical together for quite some time, and much of Canonical’s strategy has been created by these two and the rest of the executive team all along.

This change, in Shuttleworth’s own words, is subtle. He kindly gave me an example during the call, highlighting the role of Neil Levine, VP, Corporate Services, who currently reports to Shuttleworth. Shuttleworth described his relationship with Levine as working to build a strategy for Levine’s area of expertise, while Levine delivers metrics and execution plans to Silber in her role as COO.

Under the new management, Levine would deliver and implement metrics and execution plans to Silber, while Shuttleworth would support Levine with strategy planning.

And what will Shuttleworth be doing? According to his blog announcement, “I‚Äôll focus my Canonical energy on product design, partnerships and customers. Those are the areas that I enjoy most and also the areas where I can best shape the impact we have on open source and the technology market.”

These areas represent a real passion for Shuttleworth, who also plans to continue his roles on the Ubuntu Community Council and the Ubuntu Technical Board. By embedding himself further in the community and product development aspects of Canonical, he hopes to be able to delver more visions for the company while Silber effectively steers the ship where she believes it should sail.

There were, naturally, questions regarding the timing of this move. Did this represent a personal change for Shuttleworth, or was this part of a broader cost-cutting strategy for Canonical? Both execs firmly downplayed these notions, though Shuttleworth indicated that while this management change was not a specific cost-reduction plan, Silber’s operational focus and strengths would also be matched by improving the financial performance of the London-based company.

For now, don’t look for a big sea change from the makers of the Ubuntu distribution, as the company will remain steadily on course.

“We intend the transition to be a smooth one so in the immediate term it will be business as usual. Over the medium and long term we think this will better align the skills that each of us has and therefore there should be positive benefits for all who are involved in the Ubuntu and Canonical universes,” wrote Silber in her corresponding blog entry.

Article Source Andy Updegrove’s Blog
December 11, 2009, 6:37 am

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose
— French Proverb

Ah yes — “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Isn’t that how the old saw goes? Or, in the more impatient parlance of today, simply “Same old, same old.” So perhaps it should be no surprise that the old proverb would also hold true in the rough and tumble world of standards. And that is the case, not only generally, but more particularly in the suddenly hot war over eBook reader formats. This time around, though, there are a few new and interesting twists (on which more later).

What’s the “same old” part all about? There are two alternate behavioral flavors: (1) try and set a de facto standard that you control, perhaps even obtaining a near monopoly in the process (the “winner takes all” strategy), and (2) pit your standard against another, where your standard gives you some relative, if not absolute, advantages (the “our team vs. their team” strategy).

In this case, it looks like Amazon is attempting to pull off the first, but in fact it’s hard to tell whether they are serious, or just adopting a flawed strategy. Either way, I believe they will eventually have to admit defeat.

Read the Rest Here

Article Source Community-cation
December 10, 2009, 7:01 am

The technology event season has come to a close, as the holidays approach and 2009 draws to its end.

This was a great year for events in the Linux community. Several regional Linux and open source shows filled the calendar around the world, so most Linux enthusiasts got a chance to visit at least one event near them. There were also the big shows, like OSCON, Open Source World, CeBIT, and, of course, LinuxCon, which came off as an unqualified success for the Linux Foundation.

So what’s kicking off for the first half of 2010 and beyond? Here’s a wish list of the events I want to attend:

  • SCALE 8X, February 19-21, 2010, Westin Hotel near Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, CA. This is one of my favorite community shows, and its importance in the Linux ecosystem cannot be underestimated. This is the community event that sets a bar for many of the other events to reach, with strong tracks for users and developers. Vendors and experts from Linux and open source deliver top-notch content, at a level that belies the “amateur” label one might put on a community-organized show. There’s nothing amateur about SCALE. They’re still looking for speakers, too, so visit their call for papers site and see what you can contribute.
  • CeBIT 2010, Open Source Forum, March 2-6, 2010, Hanover, Germany. After the huge success of the open source agenda at last year’s CeBIT, the show organizers are giving it more room and a better location at the CeBIT exhibition grounds in 2010. The call for papers is now officially open. Interested speakers can send their proposals with the title of their talk, speaker bio, and a short description of the talk until January 7, 2010 to
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  • 4th Annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit. April 14-16, 2010, Hotel Kabuki, San Francisco, CA. Japantown in San Francisco will be the home again next year for the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, an invitation-only summit that will gather core kernel developers, distribution maintainers, ISVs, end users, system vendors and other community organizations to meet face-to-face to tackle and solve the most pressing issues facing Linux today. Want to be a part of it? Request an invite now. But registration is limited so please submit your invitation request to the Collab Summit today.
  • Red Hat Summit/JBoss World, June 22-25, 2010, Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, MA. It seems like just yesterday that I was in Chicago for the 2009 edition of these events, but this week Red Hat has announced the call for papers for these massive events. This year’s event promises more technical content, and a new joint track on cloud computing.
  • LinuxCon, August 10-12, 2010, Renaissance Boston Waterfront, Boston, MA. This is the event for which I am the most excited: the Linux Foundation’s annual technical conference that covers all matters Linux. LinuxCon will bring together the best and brightest that the Linux community has to offer, including core developers, administrators, end users, community managers and industry experts–all together to learn and share new ideas about Linux.

There will be more events coming in 2010, of course, but these are the ones I am really looking forward to at the moment. I am sure this list will expand as the year starts and more conferences are announced. For now, this is my travel wish list for 2010. Tell me what I missed, or better yet, add event information in the Events section so everyone can start planning which events they will attend.

Article Source Community-cation
December 7, 2009, 7:21 am

There was a good story on Ars Technica last week about the current state of browser share on the Internet. Browser news is always interesting because it gives us one window into how far open source has come on the desktop.

The thrust of the Ars story was how IE8 has passed the market share of IE7 (though not, amazingly, IE6, the current Bane of the ‘Net), which does not interest Linux users, except to highlight the capacity for Windows users to stick with what they know even if it puts all of their data at risk. In looking at the data, however, I was interested to note how much market share the open source browsers had against the proprietary.

November 2009 Worldwide Browser Shares, Courtesy of Net Applications
November 2009 Worldwide Browser Shares, Courtesy of Net Applications.

In the figure above, you can see the pie chart from the data source at Net Applications. Right away, you can see that Firefox is at a healthy 24.72 percent of the worldwide browser market, according to Net Applications. That’s a respectable number, but the one that really interests me is IE’s share: only 63.62 percent. This is a figure that clearly demonstrates how far the Microsoft IE juggernaut has fallen against open source browsers.

That’s because, with the exception of Opera, pretty much all of the other browsers on the list competing against IE are open source browsers.

Now, I know some will argue against Safari being called open source, but I am going to count it in the open column for the primary reason that even though some of the Safari GUI elements and tools are proprietary, the WebKit renderer code is wide open.

If you add up the percentages of all of the open source browsers in the report, you come up with 33.54 percent of the total browsers tracked. That’s compared to proprietary browsers’ 66.43 percent share (the missing .03 percent are browsers that fell below the significant tracking value for the survey).

For those Safari-as-proprietary purists out there, slipping Apple’s browser into the proprietary column puts the shares at 29.18 percent for open source and 70.79 percent for proprietary browsers.

Either way you add it up, this puts open source browsers at or very nearly a third of the market share, and with the newcomer Chrome on the scene, we can only expect this open source share to increase in the coming months.

There are three positives that come out of data like this. First, there’s the obvious argument against open-source naysayers: there are very few arguments one would have against the success of open source as a general concept when looking at the popularity of open source browsers.

Second, there’s the nice fact that nearly all of these browsers provide a nice set of Linux applications for people to try. Firefox, Opera, and Konqueror are great Linux browsers already, and the Chromium development version of Chrome works pretty well on Linux for now.

But I believe the most important takeaway from this data is that we have finally reached a tipping point for open standards across the entire web. No Web developer worth their salt can ignore that fact that more than a third of browsers are rendering sites using open standards (and here we have to count Opera in this group, because proprietary or not, it still follows open standards).

There are still IE-only pages out there of course, because there are still some bad web devs in the world, but the pressures of user demand will soon force all web coders to re-work their code to more open standards. Because sooner or later, they or their bosses will be wondering why they’re giving up a full third of their potential visitor traffic just to toe the Microsoft line.

Even as critics mock the open source browsers’ clear lack of majority (for now), these browsers have already performed their best service for Linux and general Internet users: forcing the Web to be built on open standards, and leveling the playing field for Linux to compete on mobile and cloud platforms, all the while giving all users a safer and more stable set of tools with which to surf the web.

Article Source Community-cation
December 3, 2009, 7:18 am

Some of you might be too young to remember the space race: the frenzied decades of the ’50s and ’60s where the US and the USSR poured massive resources to be the First [Anything] in space. But all of us might have a chance to watch some of this in microcosm as OEM vendors jockey for the coveted “first Chrome OS netbook shipped” position.

The fervor over Google’s new web-oriented operating system is surprising, even for ardent Linux supporters. After all, it’s only been a couple of weeks since Chrome OS was open sourced and after personally test-driving it on a virtual machine, I can tell you that while very interesting, this is still a very young system.

But since the November 19 release of the ChromiumOS source code, we have already seen:

  • By end of day on November 19, virtual machines of Chrome OS were available.
  • On November 25, Dell technology strategist Doug Anson released a Live USB image designed to run specifically atop Dell’s Mini 10v netbook.
  • On December 2, Taiwanese tech outlet DigiTimes reported Acer’s Chairman J.T. Wang being confident that his company would be the first out the door with a Chrome OS netbook–a product Acer has been working on since July 2009, and plans to release by the second half of 2010.

That’s a lot of ground covered in just two weeks, but that’s the kind of excitement the Chrome OS offering generates. And Acer is not the only player in the netbook race: in July, when Chrome OS was first announced, “ASUS… Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba” were also announced as hardware partners.

If you’re wondering where Dell is on this list, you’re not the only one. Anson’s release of the Mini 10v image was strictly unofficial, and to date Dell has made no official announcements on its plans for Chrome OS, other than they’re evaluating it.

Dell’s hesitancy seems a bit strange at first glance. After all, this is a hot new operating system designed by Google, which has a decent track record for the software it launches. And Chrome OS has a strong pedigree: it’s got Ubuntu and Moblin inside. Dell has released products with both of these technologies, so what’s not to like?

In this case, it may be just ordinary caution. It’s no secret that Dell, like most other OEMs, got hurt by the combination of the economic recession and the huge disappointment known as Windows Vista. On the same day the ChromiumOS source code was opened, Dell reported a 54 percent drop in their third-quarter profits, with a 15 percent cut in net revenue. This is enough to make any company gun-shy in venturing into a new product line–particularly a product line like netbooks, which have lower selling prices and therefore don’t contribute as much to profits as, say, servers. Adding to this caution is Dell’s previously stated goal of cutting $4 billion in costs.

The good news for Dell (and the rest of the hardware vendors) is that there may be signs of an impending recovery in the server market: IDC has reported this week that while server shipments fell, it was not as hard as they fell in 2Q. In this most recent quarter, server shipments were down 17.9 percent; much better than the 30.1 percent drop in the second quarter. 3Q shipments rose 12.4 percent over 2Q, according to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, a clear sign of some growth.

This is not out-of-the-woods news yet, but if this continues and becomes a trend, Dell could see a much-welcome stabilization of its server business, and an influx of revenue that might make them more receptive to jumping on the Chrome OS bandwagon.

And, it’s not like Dell is out of the netbook game entirely. As mentioned, Dell has released Ubuntu-loaded netbooks, including the first commercial product shipping with Moblin v2.

In the meantime, Acer is staking its claim to be the first Chrome OS netbook distributor next year. With this much commercial interest, Google’s decision to open the code at this juncture is a good one, as even more innovation will be pumped into the new operating system as launch approaches. Look for a lot of new features and new vendor participants in 2010.

The race is indeed on, and it will not be boring.

We are often so focused on the end-user or business experience of the computers we use on a daily basis that we sometimes forget about the nuts-and-bolts side of IT–a side of technology where performance is king no matter what platform, operating system, and task is present.

This is the world for organizations like the Computer Measurement Group, a not-for-profit dedicated to providing predictable measurements and analysis to any form of IT service. And, after providing accurate ways to measure IT service–no matter the platform or the job–figuring out ways to improve it.

The group initially got its start in measuring services, workloads, and transactions specifically in the mainframe arena, according to Dr. Michael Salsburg, Chief Architect for Real-Time Infrastructures within Unisys Corporation’s Systems and Technology group and active CMG member. In fact, Salsburg related to me in a recent phone interview, there is still the perception out there that mainframes are all the CMG is concerned about.

That is a misperception, actually, since the CMG has evolved to measuring services levels, capacity, performance… any aspect of IT that can be managed is fair game to be measured.

The trick, of course, is how to measure it.

This challenge is usually met during the CMG’s annual conferences, where IT luminaries from around the world meet to discuss the latest obstacles in performance measurement. This year’s conference, CMG’s 35th, will prove to be no exception, as attendees meet to take on cloud computing.

The topic of this year’s CMG conference, being held this December 6-11 in Dallas, Texas, was chosen last year, just as the initial hype for cloud computing was getting started, Salsburg said. Essentially, cloud computing was just another form of the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, he continued, and was definitely worth the focus of the CMG conference.

Cloud computing, as a broad topic, “provides some wrinkles” in measuring performance, Salsburg explained, “because we can’t always get access to all measurement points as if they were in your own data center.” While the end results can be measured against the initial input, breaking down the performance at intermediate stages can be difficult.

The very structure of cloud computing can throw up other obstacles in the measurement path. Salsburg described the three basic layers of cloud computing: cloud providers who handle just the IT infrastructure, cloud publishers who create the actual SaaS, and cloud consumers who may have their own processes added on to the job at hand. These levels can be public or private at any stage of the process, and can be very blended (such as eBay, which acts as provider and publisher nearly equally).

But getting into these types of measurements is what the CMG is all about. And these aren’t numbers that only performance wonks are going to appreciate: real-world management decisions, such as capacity planning for SaaS, will be made based on the techniques the CMG’s members will devise.

The keynote address for CMG’09, “The Impact of Software as a Service on the Enterprise Data Center,” presented by Amy Wohl, President of Wohl Associates, will cover this very issue.

Ten more presentations are scheduled throughout the conference program, as well as the The Plenary Session, “The Next Revolution in Computing: The Virtualized Data Center Meets the Cloud,” presented by Jeffrey Nick, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of the EMC Corporation.

Visit the conference site for more information on CMG’09, or visit the CMG site.

Article Source Andy Updegrove’s Blog
November 25, 2009, 9:08 am

According to Reuters, one more thread in the long-running saga of Rambus and the JEDEC SDRAM standards abuse saga appears to be reaching an end.

Specifically, the wire service report that next Wednesday the European anticompetition regulators will accept the settlement terms offered last June by chip maker Rambus. Under those terms, Rambus will not be fined and will not be found liable for any wrongdoing. In exchange, the Reuters sources says, Rambus will offer some of its products at a reduced royalty rate, and the rights to fabricate some of its older products for free, for five years beginning in 2010.

If the settlement is announced as anticipated, U.S. regulators (who fought and lost) may wonder whether their brethren across the pond (who fought and settled) are better poker players than they are.

Read the rest here