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News Round Up Feb-07, 2009

It's been over 10 days since I've blogged. I was busy with workload so I could not update the blog. I missed lots of news worthy stuff. Here is a quick news roundup:

a] A new custom version of Ubuntu aimed at netbooks and based on 8.04 Hardy Heron has been released by HP.

b] Open source Exchange server replacement only a year away.

c] Scripting SSH access and file transfers with Python can be frustrating - but the Paramiko module solves that in a powerful way.

d] Amazon offering 3 Full Version Games for a Limited period of time.

e] cyberciti.biz / nixcraft.com is now IPv6 enabled.

[click to continue…]

MySQL, Red Hat and many other open source projects made good amount of money by supporting and creating world class software. But, how do you get venture capital - financing to grow businesses based upon open source ideas? If you are opening an open source software / hardware based business, read this getting started article about VC funding.

VC Funding

According wikipedia:

A venture capitalist (also known as a VC) is a person or investment firm that makes venture investments, and these venture capitalists are expected to bring managerial and technical expertise as well as capital to their investments. A venture capital fund refers to a pooled investment vehicle (often an LP or LLC) that primarily invests the financial capital of third-party investors in enterprises that are too risky for the standard capital markets or bank loans.

Venture capital is most attractive for new companies with limited operating history that are too small to raise capital in the public markets and are too immature to secure a bank loan or complete a debt offering. In exchange for the high risk that venture capitalists assume by investing in smaller and less mature companies, venture capitalists usually get significant control over company decisions, in addition to a significant portion of the company's ownership (and consequently value).

Here in India VC funding reached to US $6.5 billion at the end of 2007. Most VC firms in India are either divisions or subsidiaries of Silicon Valley funds. They are primarily centered in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai.

Keith Ward has published an interesting article about getting funds for your small project:

So, you've got the greatest open source idea since Firefox. It's guaranteed to be bigger than TCP/IP. All you need now is some scratch to get your project off the ground. Given the genius of your idea, you're sure you'll have to beat off potential investors with a stick. If you think that's reality, I've got some subprime mortgages to sell you. Getting venture capital (VC) to fund your business is hard work, even if you have a commercial product to sell. The degree of difficulty ratchets up many times if you're an open source developer. It can be done, but it takes such single-minded focus that getting turned down multiple -- maybe even dozens -- of times won't faze you.

=> How to get VC investment for your open source

Women in Linux, BSD and Open Source Projects

Pingdom blog has posted a list of woman open source project contributors around the world. From the blog post:

We here at Pingdom have been talking about why we don't see that many women in Open Source, and were actually about to investigate it further and possibly write a blog post about it. However, when we started to actually look around we were happily surprised. There are lots of women involved in Open Source! For some reason men just seem to stick their nose out more and put themselves in positions where they are seen (and of course there are more of them).

=> Women in Open Source

Hackontest is a 24 hour programming competition between various open source software projects. The event takes place at OpenExpo on September 24/25, 2008 in Zurich, Switzerland. The contest is sponsored by Google. From the contest page:

The participating teams may win cash prizes of USD 1000, 2500 and 5000. Next to fun and competition, the elected open source developers receive a free trip to Zurich, Switzerland, including accommodation and meals from September 23 - 26, 2008 up to USD 1000 each person.

The idea of the Hackontest event is three-fold:

  • First of all, hackers (=smart programmers) of open source projects meet physically during 24h and enhance their software with a certain feature. Thus their Free Software project gets improved in terms of code and the developers have a fun time meeting in one place and competing for some nice prizes.
  • Second, users of open source software get the opportunity to file features they've missed in their favorite applications and operating systems. Therefore, during the selection process everyone who registers may file feature requests and others may vote and comment on them.
  • And third, visitors of the Hackontest event get the chance to see the commitment and team work with which open source software is created. Like this, the public becomes more aware of the creative processes and the power of collaborative effort by international open source communities.

Hackontest web site (via ./)

Coverity Logo

Coverity is a company that creates tools for software development. Its premiere product is Prevent, a static-analysis code inspection tool. Coverity offers the results of Prevent's analysis for free to open source developers.

From the project home page:

In collaboration with Stanford University, Coverity is establishing a new baseline for software quality and security in open source. Under a contract with the Department of Homeland Security, we apply the latest innovations in automated defect detection to uncover some of the most critical types of bugs found in software.

So the most notable use of Prevent is under a U.S. Department of Homeland Security contract, in which it is used to examine over 150 open source applications for bugs. Popular open source projects, such as Samba, the PHP, Perl, and Tcl dynamic languages used to bind together elements of Web sites, and Amanda, the popular open source backup and recovery software running on half a million servers, were all found to have dozens or hundreds of security exposures and quality defects.

For example, over 75% of the defects Scan identified in Samba were fixed within two reviews of the Scan analysis.
Over 75% of the defects Scan identified in Samba were fixed within two reviews of the Scan analysis.
(Fig. 01: Samba Project Code Scan Result)

=> More information about project and bugs (including charts) available at offical web site.

A total of 7,826 open source project defects have been fixed through the Homeland Security review, or one every two hours since it was launched in 2006, according to David Maxwell, open source strategist for Coverity, maker of the source code checking system, the Prevent Software Quality System, that's being used in the review.

This project is really helping out to improve overall open source software quality.