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Linux Aggro · This is get­ting a lit­tle weird. Twice in the last cou­ple of years, Li­nus Tor­valds has gone out of his way to diss So­lar­is, the OS tech­nol­o­gy and Sun cor­po­rate­ly. Now, any­one who’s spent time on a mail­ing list with Li­nus knows that his opin­ions are sharp-edged and rarely with­held. But now we have a pure at­tack piece from Aman­da McPher­son, iden­ti­fied as “the mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor of the Lin­ux Foundation” ...
NetNewsWire & NewsGator go Free · There’s a bor­ing press re­lease; and in­ter­est­ing write-ups from Greg Reinack­er and Brent Sim­mons. (Oh, and why is it we need press re­leas­es any more?) This is in­ter­est­ing on a bunch of ground­s ...
NeoOffice · I just made my an­nu­al do­na­tion to NeoOf­fice. If you want to deal with MS Of­fice and OpenOf­fice.org and ODF doc­u­ments on the Mac and you don’t want to buy any over­priced opaque bi­na­ries, it’s your best bet. The new news is that that the lat­est NeoOf­fice (2.2.2) start­up is ir­ri­tat­ing­ly slow on my 2GHz MacBook. Which, you see, is good news, be­cause pre­vi­ous com­bi­na­tions of old­er NeoOf­fices and old­er Macs start­ed up painful­ly, ag­o­niz­ing­ly, slow. For those of us who live on the We­b, at this point in his­to­ry it’s hard to feel much love for office-doc pro­cess­ing soft­ware; but of its kind, Neo is re­al­ly not bad.
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Zero · IBM’s Pro­ject Zero looks re­fresh­ing and sane; I won­der if the peo­ple still strug­gling in the WSDL swamp will be al­lowed to take the Zero Op­tion. Of course, there’s this, from the About Pro­ject Zero page: “Com­mer­cial means that this is not an open source project.” [Em­pha­sis theirs]. But... uh... isn’t... what about... oh, nev­er mind.
Tab Sweep · Per­haps a lit­tle more all-over-the-map even than is usu­al: GPLv3 clar­i­ty, Func­tion­al Pearl­s, raina bird-writer, Ja­va cred­it­s, frame­work pro­gram­mer­s, and hack­ing my Canon ...
Four Words for Microsoft · Lit­i­gate or shut up.
Lightroom and Open Source · Over the last few years, I’ve be­come some­thing of an open-source tri­umphal­ist, drift­ing to the con­clu­sion that (on the en­gi­neer­ing side) it’s the best way to build soft­ware and (on the busi­ness side) it’s a bet­ter way to mon­e­tize it. I have to con­fess that Adobe Light­room has kind of shak­en my con­vic­tion­s. Cer­tain el­e­ments of its UI and de­sign (for ex­am­ple, the crop/ro­tate tool, and the non­de­struc­tive edit­ing paradig­m) are qual­i­ta­tive steps for­ward in the state of the art. Fur­ther­more, I can’t think of a sin­gle good busi­ness rea­son for Adobe to open-source it. I guess the con­clu­sion is ob­vi­ous: for the fore­see­able fu­ture, both mod­els of soft­ware build­ing and mar­ket­ing are go­ing to march along; nei­ther is doomed.
Ian Murdock · Wow, he’s work­ing here, as of to­day. This was cooked on the ex­tra dou­ble se­cret hush-hush; con­grats to those in­volved on the leak­age con­trol ...
The Open-Source Process · I have the good for­tune to work for the world’s largest cre­ator of Open-Source soft­ware. Big com­pa­nies be­ing what they are, this means that There Is A Pro­cess. Re­cent­ly, I went through it, and I thought the sto­ry might be of mild in­ter­est to those who are try­ing to fig­ure out how to make a liv­ing at the in­ter­sec­tion of the prof­it mo­tive and OSS cul­ture ...
Backlash · Si­mon Phipps point­ed me at Protest the Microsoft-Novell Pa­tent Agree­ment, say­ing “The emo­tion is remarkable”, and he’s right, it is. The more I thought about that deal the less I wor­ried about it. Sure, soft­ware patents be­ing what they are, GNU/Lin­ux, like ev­ery non­triv­ial chunk of code, doubt­less in­fringes lot­s. So who’s Mi­crosoft gonna sue? Any large-scale Lin­ux us­er is al­so a large-scale Mi­crosoft cus­tomer; that would be bad for busi­ness. They could go af­ter Red Hat or Canon­i­cal, but that’d end up hurt­ing their cus­tomer­s, help­ing Sun, and any­how you could no more squish Lin­ux that way than you can squeeze wa­ter in your fist. “Never as­cribe to mal­ice that which can be ex­plained by incompetence” they say, and it’s true too; so maybe some Red­mond strate­gist thought the vague FUD cloud would ac­tu­al­ly move the needle. Wel­l, it has; but per­haps not quite as planned.
Tab Sweep · Uni­fy­ing the­me: none. Item: Ex­cel­lent Rails-vs.-Django study. No axe to grind, ap­par­ent­ly. No ob­vi­ous win­ner, which is news giv­en the Rails hy­pe. Item: Dana Blankenhorn’s Means and ends in open source; very thought-provoking. My guess is that the im­mense li­cens­ing fees driv­ing the bloat­ed sales in­fras­truc­tures at Or­a­cle, SAP, and friends are small in re­la­tion to the whole soft­ware ac­quire/de­ploy/­main­tain mon­e­tary pie, so the size of the whole in­dus­try isn’t like­ly to change that much. Item: Irv­ing Wladawsky-Berger, grand IBM tech­nol­o­gy poo-bah, spec­u­lates about the fu­ture of the 3-D Web in An Unusu­al Meet­ing. Speak­ing as one who’s made two con­cert­ed ef­forts to build a 3-D rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the We­b, I sure hope he’s right. Item: I can read Takashi’s cat’s mind. He’s 100% fo­cused on how he can get in be­tween Takashi and the com­put­er. (Takashi’s amus­ing post is about “Engineer's 2.0 day-life in the midafternoon”.) Item: From Clay Shirky, So­cial Fact­s, Ex­per­tise, Ci­ti­zendi­um, and Carr; a care­ful, level-headed thought piece on what it means to be an ex­pert, in the con­text of Wikipedia and Ci­ti­zendi­um. Item: From “jbischke” at Learn Out Loud, a handy list of The Top 10 Ar­gu­ments Against DRM; we al­ready knew most of this stuff, but it’s use­ful to have it pulled to­geth­er, well-argued and in one place. Item: Everyone’s blog­ging Test your mu­si­cal skills in 6 min­utes!; I on­ly got 72.2%, sigh.
Know Fear · Check out Ja­son Matusow’s Your In­put Re­quest­ed, on the re­ac­tion to the re­cent Microsoft-Novell deal. Ja­son notes the push-back and seems to be say­ing that some of it is rea­son­able and they’re will­ing to fine-tune. But there’s this one sen­tence that leaps off the screen at me: We are not in­ter­est­ed in pro­vid­ing carte blanche clear­ance on patents to any com­mer­cial activity - that is a sep­a­rate dis­cus­sion to be had on a per-instance ba­sis. Oh re­al­ly. At one lev­el that’s a tau­tol­o­gy, but placed like this in the im­me­di­ate con­text of the Novell deal, it’s more than a lit­tle threat­en­ing. It’s hard for me to imag­ine Mi­crosoft fir­ing a bar­rage of lit­i­ga­tion, or even of roy­al­ty de­mand­s, at a bunch of Lin­ux de­vel­op­ers or in­te­gra­tors or packagers—that would be a nu­cle­ar first strike and who knows who’d be left standing—but then strange things hap­pen in this world. Maybe the non­spe­cif­ic saber-rattling is the re­al point, just try­ing to cre­ate enough not-unreasonable doubt in the minds of high-tech le­gal de­part­ments to put a lit­tle drag on OSS busi­ness mo­men­tum. Of course, they don’t say what the patents that ap­ply in this con­text are, but that’s not unique Mi­crosoft evil, it’s just the evil way that these things are usu­al­ly done. [Up­date: Ballmer con­firms: “the fact that that prod­uct us­es our patent­ed in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is a prob­lem for our shareholders.” And “anybody who has got Lin­ux in their da­ta cen­ter to­day sort of has an undis­closed bal­ance sheet liability”]
On Carr · You know, I’ve re­al­ly had trou­ble fig­ur­ing out Nick Carr. I’m a con­firmed sub­scriber, be­cause a lot of his writ­ing is ex­cel­len­t; but then, some of it seems to come from troll ter­ri­to­ry. I have a the­o­ry; and some words on Open Source. [Up­date: Carr re­sponds at length.] ...
Open Source and Money · Si­mon Phipps made a speech at OSBC (he claims that, what­ev­er was re­port­ed, this is what he meant). Ben Rock­wood, who’s a re­al­ly smart guy, is elo­quent­ly re­volt­ed by OSBC in gen­er­al and Simon’s mes­sage in par­tic­u­lar. [Ed. note: I have a bunch of tech­noth­ings to write about which I’ve been putting off till mid­sum­mer brain­dead­ness abates, but this is too ur­gen­t.] ...
Open-Sourcing Apple Apps · John Gru­ber, in Why Ap­ple Won’t Open Source Its Apps, re­sponds at length to my Time to Switch piece, but re­al­ly most­ly to a 2004 piece, Ap­ple Should Go Open Source. I al­ways en­joy and usu­al­ly agree with John’s writ­ing (for ex­am­ple, his piece to­day on DRM); but I think he’s near­ly 100% wrong about how Open Source and busi­ness fit to­geth­er ...
OSS Java · Wel­l, the re­ac­tion to the state­ment on an OSS li­cense for the Sun Ja­va SE im­ple­men­ta­tion has not ex­act­ly been a cho­rus of huz­zah­s; it’s ranged from “You don’t re­al­ly mean it” to “You should have done it years ago” to “lamerz suxx0r neen­er neener”. The peo­ple work­ing through the li­cense and com­mu­ni­ty is­sues need to be aware they’ll be deal­ing with un­re­lent­ing hos­til­i­ty from their au­di­ence. There’s lots of his­to­ry here, most of which I don’t know, but no­body seems sur­prised at all this. I have to say, though, the con­trast be­tween all that nas­ti­ness and the big hap­py com­mu­ni­ty glow at last week’s Ja­va One was pret­ty stark; who are Java’s friends again? That aside, I’m still pret­ty star­tled about the re­ac­tion to the DLJ an­nounce­ment. I would have thought that mak­ing it a lit­tle less painful for GNU/Lin­ux users to in­stall Ja­va would gen­er­al­ly be re­gard­ed as a good (not huge, but good) thing—I know that Si­mon Phipp­s, Mark Shut­tle­worth, Rich Sand­s, and a bunch of oth­er peo­ple worked damn hard on it—but in­stead (see Si­mon), it pro­voked a load of vit­ri­olic trash talk. I’m dis­ap­point­ed.
Q&A · In the open­ing ses­sion at NetBeans day, Jonathan Schwartz said a few words and then brought Rich Green, our new soft­ware supre­mo, up on stage. After say­ing some nice things about Rich, Jonathan pro­posed that they do a Q&A, with Jonathan ask­ing the ques­tion­s, say­ing a “I’ll sim­u­late a developer”. His first ques­tion was “So Rich, are you go­ing to open-source Java?” Rich start­ed with “Well, why not?” But then he gave what I thought was a re­al­ly trans­par­ent brain-dump on the in­ter­nal de­bate here at Sun, which is along the lines of “Open source good, com­pat­i­bil­i­ty es­sen­tial”. So it’s go­ing to take a lot of work to fig­ure out the sto­ry around com­pat­i­bil­i­ty and com­mu­ni­ty, and that’s go­ing to re­quire plen­ty of in­put from out­side Sun. But then Rich said it again: “Why not?”
New Neo · I’ve been kind of qui­et, and that’s be­cause the Ja­va One peo­ple low­ered the boom on me, told me that if I didn’t get the slides for my ses­sion in they were go­ing to can­cel it. So I’ve been spend­ing qual­i­ty time with Open Of­fice, in par­tic­u­lar the NeoOf­fice fla­vor. They’ve got an al­pha of their ver­sion of OO.o 2 up, and it’s a vast im­prove­ment over 1.2, with a bunch of use­ful side­bar nav­i­ga­tors and bet­ter view-switching. Al­so, it’s all-ODF. There’s some in­ter­est­ing busi­ness mod­el in­no­va­tion; al­though Neo is GPL’ed, you have to sign up and pay to join the Ear­ly Ac­cess pro­gram if you want to use the 2.0 al­pha pre-release. I didn’t hit a sin­gle bug with the al­pha in two days of hard edit­ing; I as­sume the Neo boys are slav­ing away over per­for­mance, be­cause it’s pret­ty slow at the mo­men­t.
OSBC San Francisco 2006 · I spent the last two days at OSBC West. The at­ten­dees were over­whelm­ing­ly Open-Source ven­dors, with a sprin­kling of ven­ture caps and jour­nal­ist­s. The buzz was pal­pa­ble, even if the mix was a lit­tle odd; good suits con­trast­ing with T-shirts; IRC chan­nels and Slash­dot vis­i­ble on lap­top screen­s. There were so many jour­nal­ists there that Sun PR man­aged to set me up ten (!) brief­in­gs over the course of the two days, so I didn’t get to hear many of the talk­s. Ni­cholas Carr looked at electrical-industry his­to­ry, cov­er­ing some of the same same ter­ri­to­ry that Jonathan Schwartz has been over, but go­ing a lot deep­er and draw­ing a pret­ty con­vinc­ing anal­o­gy, I thought. I caught a few min­utes of Mitch Ka­por talk­ing up Wikipedi­a; he’s a good strong-voiced clear-headed ad­vo­cate. The press brief­in­gs went OK ex­cept for when Paul Kril­l, who’s re­al­ly an ex­cel­lent tech writer, ac­ci­den­tal­ly hit one of my hot but­tons by ask­ing whether blog­gers are re­al­ly re­li­able, giv­en that they don’t have pro­fes­sion­al fact-checking and edit­ing sup­port. Giv­en that I’m still mad at the Wash­ing­ton Post for egre­gious un­cor­rect­ed ly­ing, I kind of snarled at Paul, which was un­for­tu­nate as it was a rea­son­able ques­tion. I was on two pan­el­s; one, on LAMP, was in­ter­est­ing (Zend’s Doron Ger­s­tel and ActiveGrid’s Peter Yared: “PHP rules!” Me: “LAMP’s grow­ing fast, re­sis­tance is silly”). The oth­er, on Open Source and Open Stan­dard­s, was kind of bor­ing, with Microsoft’s ex­cel­lent Ja­son Ma­tu­sow fu­ri­ous­ly re­fram­ing and re­cast­ing, and no­body else get­ting quite ir­ri­tat­ed enough to start the polemic­s, which may have amount­ed to cheat­ing the au­di­ence. Oh, an­oth­er thing about OSBC: the food is re­al­ly ex­cel­len­t.
Open-Source Whatever · Over at O’Reilly, John Mark Walk­er writes There Is No Open Source Com­mu­ni­ty, and Ni­cholas Car­r, who en­joys de­cry­ing, well, any­thing pop­u­lar, chimes in with The Amoral­i­ty of Open Source. They both paint a pic­ture of mis­guid­ed in­no­cents who be­lieve in some starry-eyed vi­sion of post-capitalist in­tel­lec­tu­al col­lec­tivis­m, but are ac­tu­al­ly pawns in the hands of larg­er eco­nom­ic forces. They’re both re­al­ly wrong. Grant­ed: Open Source is not a na­tion or a cor­po­ra­tion or a po­lit­i­cal par­ty or a re­li­gion. (While there are “movement people”, or­ga­nized in­to the skeptical-of-each-other Open Source and Free Soft­ware sect­s, they are a tiny—albeit noisy—minority.) Ab­sent those things, what is left? A col­lec­tion of peo­ple who like work­ing on soft­ware and look for op­por­tu­ni­ties, prefer­ably but not nec­es­sar­i­ly paid, to do so. If that isn’t a “community”, what is? And fur­ther­more, I would rec­om­mend that Walk­er and Carr spend some time hang­ing out in the IRC chan­nels and piz­za par­ties and con­fer­ences and mail­ing lists and wikis where the Open-Source peo­ple ac­tu­al­ly, you know, are. They would dis­cov­er, now what’s the word I’m look­ing for... peo­ple who ac­tive­ly seek out their own kind, who share jar­gon and jokes and tools and thought lead­ers and en­e­mies. The word I’m look­ing for is “community”. And any­one who thinks that this com­mu­ni­ty would go away if Sun and IBM and Novell and so on were to stop fund­ing it is nut­s. Open Source Soft­ware is its own re­ward; that, and hang­ing out with peo­ple who share our pas­sion­s. We don’ need no steenkin’ eco­nomic­s. Or ide­olo­gies ei­ther.
Upcoming Gig: OSBC · In San Fran­cis­co on Fe­bru­ary 15, I’ll be at the Open Source Busi­ness Con­fer­ence, on a pan­el called Open Source Soft­ware and Stan­dards Re­vis­it­ed, con­vened by Andy Upde­grove, along with Bob Su­tor, Stephen Wal­li, and Ja­son Ma­tu­sow. Yow.
Open Source Who? · I was in this high-level meet­ing and we were fo­cus­ing on ac­ces­si­bil­i­ty; a lot of good work has been done by Free/Open-Source soft­ware peo­ple in this space, but the sto­ry still isn’t as good as it needs to be. So I got up on my pul­pit and rant­ed away about how we need to do more evan­ge­lism and get the word out that ac­ces­si­bil­i­ty is everyone’s is­sue and should be on everyone’s agen­da. One of the busi­ness­peo­ple said “Well yes, but man­age­ment at Sun and Novell and IBM are all on board and will put re­sources in, so aren’t we OK?” I was si­lenced for a mo­men­t; among oth­er things be­cause the state­ment wasn’t ob­vi­ous­ly nut­s. I mean, it’s nice that the eco­nom­ic main­stream takes F/OSS se­ri­ous­ly, and I’m re­al hap­py to be work­ing for a com­pa­ny that’s in the mid­dle of that. But I’m used to a world where F/OSS pri­or­i­ties are about what the geeks are in­ter­est­ed in work­ing on, not what man­age­ment is will­ing to fund. And this could be se­ri­ous. Way back when, I sus­pect that man­age­ment wouldn’t have been that in­ter­est­ed in a MINIX re­place­ment for the 386, or a patchy Web server, or pro­gram­ming lan­guages named af­ter jew­els and snakes. I’m op­ti­mistic that the good ideas will get worked on any­how, be­cause few forces are stronger than a good en­gi­neer in the grip of a good idea. But stil­l, the world is chang­ing (as al­ways) out from un­der us.
SISSL Retired · What, you may have won­dered, does a Chief Open Source Of­fi­cer do? Wel­l, among oth­er things, re­tire li­cens­es that are past their sell-by date. I’m no li­cens­ing gu­ru, but ev­ery­one seems to agree that there are too many of ’em, so I’m glad to see that we’re on the prob­lem.
Massachusetts Ripples · While I was pon­der­ing what to write about this OpenDoc­u­ment sto­ry, it spilled all over the In­ter­net and gen­er­at­ed oceans of cov­er­age (thanks to Bob Su­tor for the link round-up). I won­der if Gov. Rom­ney has heard from Steve or Bill yet? To my eye, per­haps the best last word is this lead­er from ZDNet UK.
Speaking of Ecosystems · As not­ed pre­vi­ous­ly Dru­pal had a lit­tle trou­ble, and the com­mu­ni­ty ral­lied around: in­di­vid­u­als to the tune of over $10,000 and my em­ploy­er with a server. So, I note that to build out their in­fras­truc­ture, Dru­pal is go­ing to use the com­mu­ni­ty do­na­tions to buy Dell box­es. Um, let’s see here; IBM and Sun in­vest in Open Source, big-time. HP’s there too. Del­l... uh, Del­l? Ecosys­tem? Com­mu­ni­ty? There’s some­thing wrong with this pic­ture. [Up­date: It turns out that Dell has been tak­ing good care of these guys, and that’s a good ar­gu­men­t. But I’d still like to bring them in­to the ecosys­tem. As for those pric­ing is­sues, there’s some­thing re­al­ly wrong with that pic­ture.]
Iron for Drupal · What hap­pened was, I read the Slash­dot sto­ry about Drupal’s serv­er melt­down, and winced sym­pa­thet­i­cal­ly; I have so been there. I keep hear­ing good things about Dru­pal, so I pinged my man­ag­er Hal Stern and asked “Think we could dig up a serv­er for some good guys hav­ing a bad day?” He talked to John Fowler, Supreme Opteron Over­lord, (hey Sun.­com, that page is out of date), and on Tues­day Dru­pal got a V20z. Holy cow, John found a good one, that sucker’s got two high-end Opterons and 4G of mem­o­ry, host­ing Dru­pal will prob­a­bly leave it enough cy­cles to sim­u­late galax­ies in the back­ground. Amus­ing side­note: Dries Buy­taert of Dru­pal wrote won­der­ing “under what terms we’d get such ma­chin­ery from Sun” and Hal wrote back say­ing a men­tion on the site would be nice, “and no of­fense, but the le­gal cost of any more ‘terms’ than above ex­ceeds our cost of the hardware.” As usu­al, I can’t re­sist the op­por­tu­ni­ty to gen­er­al­ize: ladies and gen­tle­men, what we have here is an ecosys­tem. Dru­pal has a prob­lem, the com­mu­ni­ty no­tices, Slash­dot broad­cast­s, we help them out, a nice piece of in­fras­truc­ture is strength­ened, the tide ris­es and all our boats float a lit­tle high­er. Is this a great busi­ness to be in or what?
News From Norway · Via Eric Schei­d, an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled Nor­we­gian Min­is­ter: Pro­pri­etary For­mats No Longer Ac­cept­able in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Govern­ment. This sounds like an en­light­ened pol­i­cy for any gov­ern­men­t.
On Being Open · I was in a meet­ing to­day and the dis­cus­sion turned to Open Source vs. Open Stan­dards; the re­la­tion­ship is com­pli­cat­ed and peo­ple who care about one or both of these things have to be care­ful and clear in what they say. Ex­cept for Of­fice Suites. There, you have one choice that is nei­ther open-source nor built around open stan­dards (Mi­crosoft Of­fice), and sev­er­al oth­er choic­es that are both (S­tarOf­fice or OpenOf­fice or KOf­fice, all built on the OASIS Open Doc­u­ment for­mat). For doc­u­ments that are high-value, or long-lived, or you hold in stew­ard­ship for your stake­hold­er­s, the choice seems like a no-brainer to me. Al­so, I ob­serve that the com­mu­ni­ty of hack­ers (I mean that in the good sense) has start­ed to no­tice that you can do in­ter­est­ing things with of­fice doc­u­ments; as­sum­ing they’re in an open for­mat, of course.
Office Doc Format News · A cou­ple of low-key news items in the Of­fice Doc­u­ment XML space, worth high­light­ing be­cause I think this area is sig­nif­i­can­t, as do some im­por­tant peo­ple. First of­f, the peo­ple stan­dard­iz­ing this stuff over at OASIS (and soon, ISO) pub­lished a sec­ond draft, and, with­out any fan­fare, they changed the name from “OpenOffice.org XML Format” to “OpenDocument”, which is short­er, bet­ter, and not tied to any par­tic­u­lar im­ple­men­ta­tion. There’s ac­tion on the Mi­crosoft front too; check the mi­crosoft­.pub­lic.of­fice.xml and mi­crosoft­.pub­lic.xml news­group­s, where there are flur­ries of ques­tions dig­ging through the knot­ty cor­ners of WordML and Ex­celML; you nev­er re­al­ly un­der­stand a di­alect un­til you have to write a pro­gram to gen­er­ate it. I’m sure the de­tails will come out de­spite some cur­rent ir­ri­ta­tion, but this is a rea­son why Mi­crosoft should cast a friend­ly eye at the bor­ing, bu­reau­crat­ic, painful stan­dard­iza­tion pro­cess.
Why OpenOffice? · From one Jem Berkes, of whom I’ve nev­er pre­vi­ous­ly heard, a nice, com­pact tour through all the rea­sons you might want to base your work on the OpenOf­fice.org soft­ware rather than the al­ter­na­tive. There’s noth­ing ground­break­ing or sur­pris­ing, just some ob­vi­ous points that need to be made and here are made well.
When Secrets Make Sense · Re­cent­ly I wrote a short piece mak­ing a strong and gen­er­al claim that the same forces that are push­ing da­ta to­wards XML are push­ing soft­ware to­wards Open Source. There was an in­ter­est­ing and well-written push­back from Microsoft’s Joe Marini. I think that, as Joe says, there are places in soft­ware where se­crets make busi­ness sense; but we dis­agree as to where they are ...
Opening Everything · At the just-concluded XML 2004 con­fer­ence, I claimed in my clos­ing keynote that XML and Open Source are the par­al­lel out­comes of a sin­gle trend. I don’t think that the ar­gu­ment is that sub­tle or dif­fi­cult ...
Politeness and Cluelessness · I was just get­ting ready to knock off when Jonathan post­ed a piece with all sorts of thought­ful re­marks about the Ja­va con­stituen­cies (note plu­ral), and a pass­ing ref­er­ence to “binary extremes” in ref­er­ence to these re­marks by Richard Ep­stein, in the Fi­nan­cial Times no less. James Gover­nor has al­ready giv­en Ep­stein a few well-deserved whacks, and I’ve been try­ing to think of some­thing more cre­ative to say than “This clue­less wind­bag doesn’t know what he’s writ­ing about.” Among oth­er things, he of­fers blue-sky spec­u­la­tion (a­ka FUD) about what might go wrong with the GPL but hasn’t yet. Then he con­fus­es com­mit­ters with com­mit­tees, in fact us­ing the phrase “central committee” to sug­gest the smell of Com­mies un­der the bed. Lu­di­crous­ly, he as­serts that “Open Source... can­not scale up to meet its own successes.” Uh, well, Lin­ux, Apache, gc­c, OpenOf­fice, Mozil­la... fe­h. Cru­cial­ly, he ap­par­ent­ly hasn’t no­ticed that Open Source is fun to do, and an ex­cel­lent peer-group sta­tus en­hancer; fun and peer-group sta­tus be­ing ap­prox­i­mate­ly the two most pow­er­ful stim­uli known to Ho­mo Sapi­ens. Jonathan of­fers clues (check out the trail­ing hy­per­link) but I think I’ll just stay with “doesn’t know what he’s writ­ing about.”
Smart EC · Be­cause of the way on­go­ing works I need fair­ly short head­li­nes, which is a pity, be­cause for this piece I want­ed to use The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Makes Ex­treme­ly Smart Moves Con­cern­ing Open XML-Based Of­fice Doc­u­ment For­mats and Brow­beats Ven­dors Deft­ly; As a Re­sult the Open Of­fice XML For­mat Will Prob­a­bly Be­come an ISO Stan­dard ...
Office Source Code · I’ve been try­ing to think of some­thing in­tel­li­gent and new to say about Microsoft’s re­cent Of­fice source code ma­neu­ver, but Si­mon Phipps took care of it. Any­how, when it comes to Of­fice soft­ware, I’m less in­ter­est­ed in its code (source or ob­jec­t) which should be dis­pos­able and re­place­able, than I am in its out­put. Some call them “office documents”; I pre­fer “intellectual heritage”, “racial memory”, “crystallized thought”, “priceless treasure”, that kind of thing. They need to be tak­en care of bet­ter than they are, I think, and oth­ers agree.
The FYO Point · Today’s must-read: Bryan Cantrill’s huge (in im­port, it’s not that long, and it’s il­lus­trat­ed) piece The Eco­nomics of Soft­ware. Sam­ple quote: “Open source soft­ware has all of the prop­er­ties of a loss-leader — mi­nus the loss, of course.”
We’re in the Editorial Business · Si­mon Phipps has a big, thought­ful piece up on Open Source, com­pet­ing free­dom­s, and mak­ing mon­ey. Def­i­nite­ly worth a care­ful read.
15 Science Street · Rue de la Science to be ex­ac­t, in Brus­sel­s; a non­de­script ad­dress in the end­less sprawl of Euro­pean Union in­fras­truc­ture. What hap­pened was, a few days be­fore I start­ed at Sun on March 15, they called up and said “Would you like to go to Brus­sels for a March 23 pre­sen­ta­tion on XML Of­fice Doc­u­ment Formats?” OpenOf­fice.org vs. Mi­crosoft, nat­u­ral­ly ...
Brazilian OSS · Our own Si­mon Phipps is a long way South, in Brazil at this great big honk­ing Open Source con­fer­ence they have there. He’s got good write-ups on the event in gen­er­al and on how Ja­va plays. Worth a read.
Views of Freedom · The re­cent re­lease of MT3.0 has pro­voked a whole lot of smart com­men­tary around the net over the past few days: for ex­am­ple see Si­mon Phipps (here and here) and Alan Burli­son. But the one that hit me hard­est is Mark Pilgrim’s Free­dom 0. This piece has been crit­i­cized (cor­rect­ly) as dis­con­nect­ed from the way con­sumer soft­ware works (sum­ma­ry: users pay for fea­tures). And in­deed, Mark doesn’t think about this the way a con­sumer would: how many of them run eleven sites? In­stead, he thinks about this like a CIO does . “Freedom 0” is all about pre­dictabil­i­ty and risk re­duc­tion; CIO ter­ri­to­ry, big-time. Mark car­ries the ar­gu­ment to ex­tremes be­cause that’s the kind of writ­er he is, but it’s an ar­gu­ment ev­ery­one in the soft­ware busi­ness should be think­ing about.
The Last Emperor · In re­cent days, two in­ter­est­ing rants on the top­ic of Open Source, both worth look­ing at. Sum­ma­ry: Cle­mens Vasters is re­al­ly, re­al­ly, wrong; Le­maire and De­croocq cov­er well-trodden ground, but have some zinger­s ...
Fawcette Doesn’t Get It · Jim Fawcette (head hon­cho at the epony­mous pub­lish­er) has a reg­u­lar col­umn which he typ­i­cal­ly us­es to diss some big tech name or an­oth­er; re­cent vol­leys were aimed at Google, Java, and Mi­crosoft. If you’re go­ing to be a grinch, be­ing even-handed about it is a good thing. The most re­cent out­ing, an ex­tend­ed ful­mi­na­tion on Open Source, gets so many things wrong, though, that I have to push back a bit ...
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