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open source software

Android

Android is now open source software and available for download from official website. It is a software platform and operating system for mobile devices. It is based upon Linux kernel and developed by Google and Open Handset Alliance. Today, Google made exciting announcement - they have now released the source code for Android. There's a huge amount of code and content there, so head over to official website to grab all the details.

From the project site:

Android is the first free, open source, and fully customizable mobile platform. Android offers a full stack: an operating system, middleware, and key mobile applications. It also contains a rich set of APIs that allows third-party developers to develop great applications.

=> Android is now Open Source

For the first time, court lays down a legal foundation for the protection of open source developers. This means now all open source licenses are enforceable. From the article:

An appeals court has erased most of the doubt around Open Source licensing, permanently, in a decision that was extremely favorable toward projects like GNU, Creative Commons, Wikipedia, and Linux. The man who prompted that decision could be described as the worst enemy a Free Software project could have. This is the story of how our community was able to benefit from that enemy.

For a decade there'd been questions: Are Open Source licenses enforceable at all? Are their terms, calling for a patent detente or disclosure of source code, legal?

=> Bruce Perens: A Big Change for Open Source (via ./)

You may find Software Freedom Law Center web site useful. It provide legal representation and other law-related services to protect and advance Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). The Center now represents many of the most important and well-established free software and open source projects.

OpenGL Released As Free Software

OpenGL (Open Graphics Library) is a standard specification defining a cross-language cross-platform API for writing applications that produce 2D and 3D computer graphics. The interface consists of over 250 different function calls which can be used to draw complex three-dimensional scenes from simple primitives. OpenGL was developed by Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) in 1992 and is widely used in CAD, virtual reality, scientific visualization, information visualization, and flight simulation. It is also used in video games. Now OpenGL is released as free software. From the press release:

As software developers the world over prepare to mark the 25th anniversary of the GNU System, Silicon Graphics, Inc. today announced it is releasing a new version of the SGI Free Software License B. The license, which now mirrors the free X11 license used by X.Org, further opens previously released SGI® graphics software that has set the industry standard for visualization software and has proven essential to GNU/Linux® and a host of applications.

Today's announcement affects software created by SGI that forms the building blocks of many elements of today's gaming, visual computing, and immersive experiential technologies, including a wide range of proven visualization solutions provided by SGI.

Previous SGI contributions to the free and open source community are now available under the new license. These contributions include the SGI® OpenGL® Sample Implementation, the GLX™ API and other GLX extensions. GLX provides the glue connecting OpenGL and the X Window System™ and is required by any OpenGL implementation using X. GLX is vital to a range of free and commercial software, including all major Linux distributions.

SGI first released the software under a licensing model in 1999. But now SGI is pleased to release an updated version of the license that meets the free and open source software community's widely accepted definition of "free."

There is a new growing trend in enterprise, adopt community based distribution such as Ubuntu or CentOS Linux. I can confirm the same. Last month, I helped one my client to move from RHEL 4.x to CentOS and Debian boxes. I also trained their existing staff to work with Debian. This was done to cut the cost and they found that Red Hat support is not worth paying huge money. They were totally dissatisfied with the cost of support services.

Companies are increasingly choosing free community-driven Linux distributions instead of commercial offerings with conventional support options. Several factors are driving this trend, particularly dissatisfaction with the cost of support services from the major distributors. Companies that use and deploy Linux internally increasingly have enough in-house expertise to handle all of their technical needs and no longer have to rely on Red Hat or Novell.

I've client with over 500 RHEL servers. I always found that Google is the best hunting tool for solving Linux related problems. Red Hat staff will always forced to do a sysreport before you moved to 2nd or 3rd level support to get quality support (it may take 2-3 days). So what is the use of support if I had to go though tier 1 each time?

On a bright side, you may wanna use Red Hat or Novell support:

  1. If you like to point fingers at someone else with 24/7
  2. Large Business most likely going to have support option
  3. Red Hat and Novell also help to grow open source software. They pay full-time Linux developers and kernel hackers.
  4. Some kernel bugs and issues can only be fixed by vendor as there is no work around.

Personally, I use Debian and FreeBSD on all my servers. Cyberciti.biz server is powered by RHEL 5.2. I always suggest to have RHEL for all business / mission critical systems.

Read more: Analyst: Ubuntu, community distros ready for the enterprise

Microsoft Backs Apache and Open Source

In the past Microsoft has been hostile to the open source movement. But At OSCON, Microsoft announced their sponsorship of "The Apache Software Foundation", joining Google and Yahoo! at Platinum level. Microsoft donated US $100k (minimum requirement, MS did not disclose how much money it had contributed) to Apache foundation. This sponsorship will enable the ASF to pay administrators and other support staff so that ASF developers can focus on writing great software.

According to Sam Ramji:

It is not a move away from IIS as Microsoft’s strategic web server technology. We have invested significantly in refactoring and adding new, state-of-the-art features to IIS, including support for PHP. We will continue to invest in IIS for the long term and are currently under way with development of IIS 8.

It is a strong endorsement of The Apache Way, and opens a new chapter in our relationship with the ASF. We have worked with Apache POI, Apache Axis2, Jakarta, and other projects in the last year, and we will continue our technical support and interoperability testing work for this open source software.

Nice idea.

Michael Ogawa has created some stunning visualizations for open source software projects such as Apache, Python, Eclipse IDE, and Postgres. From the project home page:

This visualization, called code_swarm, shows the history of commits in a software project. A commit happens when a developer makes changes to the code or documents and transfers them into the central project repository. Both developers and files are represented as moving elements. When a developer commits a file, it lights up and flies towards that developer. Files are colored according to their purpose, such as whether they are source code or a document. If files or developers have not been active for a while, they will fade away. A histogram at the bottom keeps a reminder of what has come before.

  • Code Swarm - An experiment in organic software visualization. (via Digg)

Read the Fine Print on "Open Source" Software

There is some good discussion going on about open source software licenses and confusion. From the article:

Back in the 1980s, when Richard Stallman was the only one talking about the need for "free software," no one quite knew what he was talking about. That's not just because people looked askance at someone who said it would be possible to write a version of Unix that could be given away for free, along with all of the compilers, editors, and utilities that a typical Unix installation included.

Stallman also managed to confuse people with the term "free" -- he used it as a political statement, saying "free as in freedom," or "free as in 'free speech'," contrasting it with "free as in 'free beer'." But no matter how hard he tried, Stallman was faced with the reality that most people thought of "free software" as programs for which you didn't have to pay money. The fact that Stallman's software was indeed designed to be given away without charge only added to the confusion.

=> Read the Fine Print on "Open Source" Software ( via Linuxtoday )