What
 · Technology
 · · Open Source

That Oracle-Google Appeal · I’m actually not that upset. The decision may or may not stand, so nobody on either side should either overcelebrate or rend their garments in anguish. And even if APIs are copyrightable, maybe that’s not so terrible. But I think the OSS community just picked up a new to-do item ...
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Solving Fujifilm’s Problem · I got this new camera from Fujifilm; it’s outstanding, but has a really irritating software problem. Fuji could fix that on the double-quick and at the same time turn the problem into a marketing weapon. How? Two words: Open source ...
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OSCON 2013 · I’ve been to this event a bunch of times over the years, always as a speaker I think. But if I couldn’t speak I’d probably pay real money to come anyway. It feels, for the moment, still essential ...
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Two Factor, Twice · One of my jobs is browbeating people to turn on 2-Step Verification, and it’s working; more and more people are. Today I learned that we’ve got some open-source technology you can use to add 2-factor to your own app ...
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Undocumented Territory · What happened was, there was an irritating little bug in my LifeSaver app. Which turned into a real problem, since I was using an undocumented API. The story of the bug’s death might be useful in giving a feeling for the 21st-century open-source world ...
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Use the Source! · I’m working on an Android app and the documentation didn’t stop me making a stupid mistake. If it weren’t open-source, that might have been a problem ...
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Five Pictures of OSCON · It’s my favorite conference, I think. I love the smaller, more focused events too, but OSCON is a gathering of the tribes and we need one of those ...
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Practical Open Source · Android is an open-source project, which has a bunch of cultural and economic consequences. I’m going to ignore those today, and describe how I use the source code to get work done ...
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Rebuilding the World · What happened was that, for reasons which I’ll write about under the Concur.next rubric, I wanted to turn my attention back briefly to Erlang. Which means that I needed to fetch & build the latest version. Which ended up costing me three days of Open-source yak shaving. Which had a happy ending and some lessons to teach ...
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OSCON 2009 · I’d be hard-put to say whether OSCON or RubyConf is my favorite conference of the year; when I miss either I’m grumpy. Here’s a brief report from the latest San Jose instalment, with pictures ...
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Software · This is a directory of some small pieces of open-source software I’ve written over the years. All the big pieces of software I’ve worked on have been in the service of one company or another, and are without exception now discarded. However, these little morsels live on. There’s a lesson in that ...
 
Pronounced “Keen-Eye” · We launched Project Kenai very quietly last Friday. It’s a developer hub with SCM and issue tracking and forums and all the other stuff you’d expect. We built it because we needed it, but it’s open for use by the world for free. For a newborn infant, it looks pretty good. Anyone can visit, but to create a project requires an invitation, which I have some of; contact me if you want one. There are lots of interesting things about Kenai; among other things, it’s a Rails app. Herewith the details.
[Update: Nick Sieger responds to heat over “control”.]
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Sun Web Stack · [This is one of four pieces of Sun news from last week; I actually got to make the announcements at OSCON but was too busy to blog]. The Sun Web Stack, shipping later this year, is an agglomeration of Web stuff (“Formerly known as CoolStack, also known as LAMP/SAMP”), and a fully-supported Sun product on both Solaris and GNU/Linux. Read on for details and discussion; this raises some interesting issues ...
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Nine Pictures of OSCON · Herewith some illustrated take-aways from OSCON 2008; I enjoyed it (and, I think, benefited from it) as much as any conference in recent years ...
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All Free Now · On November 12, 2006, I wrote Java Is Free, about the GPL’ing of the Sun Java source code. It was a good day. The job wasn’t 100% finished then, because there was encumbered code we couldn’t GPL. As of today, it’s pretty well done. With contributions from a bunch of people and organizations, especially Red Hat’s Fedora community and the Iced Tea project, the missing pieces are filled in and the TCK has been passed. Most people don’t realize what a huge hurdle the TCK is; we are talking about a whole lot of tedious, unexciting, exacting, work, and we all owe a tip of the hat to the people who ground their way through it.
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Warm OSS Glow · I see that NetBeans 6.1 is out. It’s a nice enough release (MySQL improvements, surprise surprise), but here’s what touched me. I don’t know how many other OSS projects do this, but I got an email this morning from qa@netbeans.org: “We'd like to inform you that the following issues you reported have been addressed in the new version” and listing four bugs I’d filed. What a nice touch.
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JRuby 1.1 · I see the JRubyists have shipped JRuby 1.1. I increasingly think JRuby is interesting and important as a test case, even if you don’t happen to care in the slightest about Ruby or Rails ...
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Sssssssssssssssssssssssun · As anybody who watches this space knows, we’ve been pouring increasing amounts of love on dynamic languages recently. Well, er, on Ruby, to be precise. But you know, Ruby’s not the only game in town. So, as of this morning, noted Pythonista Ted Leung and Jython lead Frank Wierzbicki are joining Sun ...
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Bejeweled Ape · I am delighted to announce that my collaborators (now including Brandon Mitchell) have been wrangling the Ape and it is now a Ruby Gem. Wow.
 
Virtual Indiana · I got the networking working on yesterday’s Indiana + VirtualBox + Mac install, but not well. I think that driver needs some work, it seems to lock up on big data transfers. Anyhow, just for fun, I brought over a 22-meg 5782×3946 JPG (a slide scan, the first picture here), and opened it up with the Gimp under Indiana under VirtualBox under OS X. And it worked. It sure ain’t as fast as Lightroom, but then nothing is as fast as Lightroom. I pulled out the Levels tool and and blackened the shadows a bit and twiddled the white balance. You could live with it if you had to. That VirtualBox is more than a little OK ...
 
The Ruby News · I keep putting off this Ruby News Survey piece because there keeps being more news, but hey, you have to pull the trigger sometime ...
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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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Year-End Sweep — Tech · Over the course of the year, in browser tabs, bookmarks, and del.icio.us, I’ve built up a huge list of things that I felt I should write about, at least at the time I saw them. Well, dammit, I’m not gonna let 2007 end without at least making a try. Here goes. Categorized, even ...
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New NetBeans · The bits were posted earlier today. NetBeans 6.0 is live ...
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Android · I’m having a little trouble understanding Android; the business side I mean, not the technology ...
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Pattern? · I can’t help but notice that, every time the subject comes up in a conversation with Open-Source geeks, how much everybody seems to hate SourceForge. I’m talking a seriously negative vibe. Anyone out there like them?
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The Plot Thickens · Ah, I see the RubyForgers have the new server on the air. That 4200 should do quite a bit better than the very basic Xeon it’s replacing, particularly since they were maxed out on I/O ...
 
GlassFish V2 · It’s out today. Now, I don’t work with app servers that much, and I’ve hardly ever touched GlassFish. But this is interesting anyhow, for two reasons: First, GlassFish is an example of a software product that was struggling in the market, and is doing immensely better after moving from closed to Open Source. Smells like the future to me. Second, check out that launch pointer: a blog cluster, with the marketing basics and a ton of highly-technical detail. I just don’t think there’s any other sensible way to launch a modern software package whose users are developers.
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Long-Weekend Fun · So, hey, it’s the last weekend before school starts and everything gets real again. So we should be kicking back, right? As in, working on Atom Protocol and WordPress ...
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Website Gems · It’s hard for corporate Web sites to be interesting. My feeling is that generally, you’d like them to make it easy for people to find what they need, and otherwise get out of the way. Having said that, there are two Sun-Web things that, just in the last week, gave me a big smile. First, FOSS Open Hardware Documentation. One of the major obstacles faced by the people who build Free and Open-Source operating systems (i.e. us, the penguinistas, and the BSDers) is getting the hardware builders to publish specs; historically, they’ve been frightened of those weird open-source hippies. Well, we’re a hardware builder, and that page is trying to aggregate all the specs that kernel-builders might need. Simon Phipps tells me that this is a big job, with lots of legal due-diligence, and it’ll never be complete. But at least a good start. Second, check out this screencast about wikis.sun.com. When this went by in the internal email I skipped it—who’d watch a screencast about a wiki? But hey, it’s good, check it out.
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Pantone’s Missed Chance · Today I see, via John Gruber, that Pantone has been acquired by X-Rite. In 1995, I gave Pantone’s CEO some advice that might have made them a lot of money. He didn’t take it, but it’s an amusing story ...
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TestMaker · I got mail from Frank Cohen saying “We just released TestMaker 5.0, could you give us a plug?” Hey, why not; I don’t know the first thing about the software so this is not an endorsement, and the phrase “SOA Governance” gives me a mild wave of nausea, but Frank’s a good guy, a long-time proponent of dynamic languages on the JVM, and anyhow the software’s Open-Source. Hey Frank, does it talk REST?
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Tidying HTML · I’ve decided that mod_atom really needs to be a blog-publishing system, not just an Atom Store. And furthermore, based mostly on the comments to that Sanitation piece, I’ve made two design decisions. First, the sanitizing happens only on the HTML output; the Atom-store part will persist the data as close as possible to the way it was sent upstream. Second, I’m going to try using the TidyLib parser to pick apart type="html" text constructs so I can clean ’em up ...
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Welcome David · The Ape (runnable, source) has a new committer: David Calavera, who’s from Spain. He wrote me out of the blue saying “Here are some patches that are the beginning of an RFC2617 framework.” David needed the Ape to talk WSSE for his own work ...
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mod_atom Status · People who are interested in the software shouldn’t have to read the acres of prose in the mod_atom intro, so I’ll just keep this one up to date ...
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mod_atom · This is a stripped-down implementation of the server side of the Atom Publishing Protocol as an Apache module, implemented in C. It felt like something that needed to exist and I am better-qualified for this particular chore than your average geek; having said that, I have no idea if anyone actually needs such a thing. mod_atom activity can be tracked on this blog, for now, here. If any interest develops, then I’ll transfer discussion to a blog at mod-atom.net which will be driven, of course, by mod_atom ...
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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.
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Summer of Code · I really have to salute Google’s Summer of Code; in every open-source community I listen to, without exception, there are SoC rumbles going around. One community asked me to help a bit, and I’m happy to: OpenOffice.org has had really good experiences with SoC and wants to do even more; they’re looking for students and ideas and if you build something useful, the way OpenOffice and ODF are growing, you have a chance of getting your work on a whole lotta desktops. Check it out!
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JRuby Servlets · I got the Ape running on JRuby and wired Jing back in, which is really useful (some of the so-called Service Docs out there are canine fecal matter). I was pretty damn impressed when the now-2400+ lines of Ape code totally just worked in JRuby. Then, I was irritated by the realization that my primitive CGI setup for running the Ape is just not gonna fly if I have to start up a JVM and JRuby for each request. So I thought “this is what servlets are for, right?” and the good news is that It Can Be Done ...
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Cooler Stack · They’ve refreshed the Solaris Cool Stack, I see. Most obviously, there’s new stuff: Ruby (with RubyGems and Rails) and Memcached. But for my money, the most interesting is the souped-up PHP. It comes with a ton of extension libraries, and, most important, the Suhosin patch from the Hardened PHP Project. I have no visibility into why there is so much turmoil and acrimony in the PHP-security world, but I suspect you’d be nuts to deploy any serious PHP app without Suhosin.
 
AMP R Us · I’m happy; Cool Stack was just a first step. This is something I’ve been arguing for since approximately fifteen minutes after arriving here. The publicity is here, here, and especially here: Sun Optimized AMP Stack for the Solaris 10 OS. There’s lots of marketing language, but I think the essential thing is that Sun is going to try to be a first-rate supplier of all the important pieces of open-source Web-facing software. The job isn’t finished yet, until all of Apache and MySQL and PostgreSQL and PHP and Python and Ruby and Rails are in the package, all optimized for Solaris, all stuffed with DTrace probes, and all with developer and production support available. It won’t be long ...
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Integrated Systems · In Which Mac?, I wrote “Not quite ready to unSwitch for day-to-day work yet; it seems the latest Linuxes still have issues with outboard displays and power management [now 37 people are going to write me to tell me how you can make that work, each providing their own multi-step recipe]”. Hubert Figuière , very sensibly, commented “Actually there is no need for a multi-step Linux-that-work-on-laptop how to. Just purchase a model that is known to be well supported.” ...
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Building Ruby · A couple of months ago, Rubyist world headquarters over in Japan was looking around for something to run their new Subversion server on. We dug a box out of a closet and sent it along, and now it looks like it’s up. Jeepers, that’s a fully loaded X4100, it ought to be able to handle the next couple of thousand Ruby committers assuming they only code eighteen hours a day or so, and with hot-swappable everything, so next time you type svn co ruby, it’ll probably work.
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Apple App Attrition · Yes, it’s another anguished chapter in my relationship with OS X and its posse. Baubles already hanging on this chain include Back to the Mac, Time to Switch?, and Unswitch. Weirdly, unless my logfiles are lying, people like reading them. Anyhow, I had a hard crash this afternoon when I unplugged my external screen, and after OS X came back, both Mail.app and NetNewsWire had lost their memory. It turns out NetNewsWire takes a daily backup of your subscriptions (that Brent Simmons, he da man!) so that only took a couple of minutes to recover. But Mail.app, like iCal, seems to think a crash is a good enough reason to discard user data; all my preferences and profiles were gonzo, I had to start from scratch. It still had my old POP mail without the account they belonged to, but it’d forgotten about my Sun IMAP world. I got it working again, but then there were some folders I didn’t recognize, so I deleted them, and now it’s borked again; says “Synchronizing with server” and never comes back. So I said the hell with it and now I’m running Thunderbird, which ain’t as pretty but seems to work. I’m still OK with OS X, but the number of its apps I use is down to Address Book, iTunes, iMovie, and (until the microsecond I find an alternative) iCal. Apple makes nice computers and a good operating system. Aside from movies or music, I’d stay away from the rest of the apps. OK, let’s try to be fair: I use computers and applications way harder than most, and plenty of people are unlikely to push these apps into breakage. And Apple’s mail and calendar and browser and so on are polished and easy to use. But I just can’t rely on them any longer. [Update: The Mac is going to win because its community is smart and engaged. For evidence, check the comments. Excellent stuff.]
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The Week After · A few browser tabs have built up with follow-ons from last week’s Java source code news. The best single day-after piece is Mark Reinhold’s There’s not a moment to lose!; I was on that IRC channel for the “Vijay is on it” moment. Mark also points at Java Posse coverage. I listened to it and ten minutes in was getting dubious, there wasn’t much new news. But about halfway through they started getting technical; as in, is building the JDK more like building Linux (easy) or like building OpenOffice.org (hard)? Listen for details. Then there’s an interview with me in Eclipse Magazine. Two amusing points: when Sebastian Meyen sent me the questions, he mentioned half a dozen different web sites and magazines they might run it in, but not Eclipse mag (Sebastian, it’s just fine); also, contrast the fanciful article title and my answer to the community-models question. Speaking of Eclipse and snickers, there’s Mike Milinkovich telling Information Week that we made the open-source move in reaction to Harmony. Look, Eclipse is an important part of the Java ecosystem, and Harmony is an interesting project with really smart people, but gimme a break. You might want to look past the conspiracy theories and industry tectonics, and consider a simpler explanation. Moving on: I took my daily glance at Slashdot today and damn if there isn’t a great big honking get-the-Java-source-code ad all up and down the right sidebar. I would never have thought of doing that, and I don’t claim to understand the advertising strategy or tactics; but seeing it made me happy. Closing note: You have no idea how much work this has been, for a whole lot of our best people; my hat is off to ’em.
 
The Morning After · Well, that was quite a party. Herewith a few notes on communications, reactions, and names ...
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Java Is Free · When I took the job at Sun in early 2004, I had a long talk with John Fowler, about this blog among other things. John said: “You might end up happier if you don’t blog about open-sourcing Java.” That was then. Today’s story is simple: Unmodified GPL2 for our SE, ME, and EE code. GPL2 + Classpath exception for the SE libraries. Javac and HotSpot and JavaHelp code drops today. The libraries to follow, with pain expected fighting through the encumbrances. Governance TBD, but external committers are a design goal. No short-term changes in the TCK or JCP. There are a ton of presentations and an (excellent) FAQ and so on, all to show up at sun.com/opensource/java sometime in the next few hours. I wanted to add a couple of remarks on areas that stuff doesn’t highlight ...
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That License Thing · CNET says Jonathan says CDDL. Slashdot says CRN says GPL. Who ya gonna believe? (This is fun!)
 
SAMP · If you’re running any of Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl, or Squid on Solaris, trot on over to the Cool Stack space and pick up the latest super-optimized builds, now for x64 as well as SPARC. Hey guys, how about Ruby and Python? And someday (hopefully soon) we’ll be doing it with apt-get and wondering what this pkgadd thing used to be.
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Ubuntu Baby · What happened was, we had Kerith over to take some real family portraits (they came out great) and when I scanned her negatives, there were gigabytes of pixels that I didn’t really want to copy around the network, so I thought I’d drop ’em on a DVD. This fragment combines Open Source serendipity, Microsoft-bashing, and adorable baby photography ...
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Get Yer SAMP Stacks Here · One of the nice things about working for a big company is that sometimes you run across smart people doing smart things that you didn’t know about. For example, check out the CoolThreads Optimized Open Source Software Stack (thank goodness, they also use “Cool Stack”). I don’t know who these guys are, I don’t know where they are, someone just pinged me and said “Look what’s popping up on the blogs” (Gene Saunders, Dwayne Lee). Summary: Apache and MySQL and PHP and Squid, in various combinations, all 64-bit builds optimized to the max with with the Studio compilers, which should be way faster than gcc builds. Looks like somebody just saw an opportunity and Did The Right Thing; good on ’em.
 
Back to the Mac · It took nearly two weeks to get the PowerBook fixed, but for now I’m a Macboy again. On balance, the Mac experience is better. But Ubuntu is not that far behind, and it’s catching up. I’m thinking about the endgame ...
 
Ubuntu Gimp Intelligence · Well, I was going to have to do it sometime. I got out the USB cable and plugged the camera into the Ubuntu box, not expecting much ...
 
More Ubuntu · Just a scratchpad for my further Ubuntu-experience notes. So far: “locate”, Emacs, Thunderbird, Firefox, function keys, windows vs. apps, menu placement, hibernate, and X keyboard mappings ...
 
Involuntary Ubuntu · This morning I got a contract in the email from a lawyer and clicked on it, and MS Word started opening. Sigh. Then, my Mac locked up. After I cycled the power a couple of times, it was essentially a brick. Can I blame Microsoft? It’s off at the Mac doctor now, no prognosis, no ETA. [Update: Fried logic board, new one on order, they can’t say when it’ll be here.] I’m learning how to actually work full time on Ubuntu really fast (that was the current most up-to-date install on the Ultra 20, and I really did not want to invest any OS-install time). If you’re reading this, I’m moving along OK; this is the first-ever ongoing post not authored on and posted from a Macintosh ...
 
OSCON Notes · I have a bunch of notes and thoughts scattered round my computer and brain and I was going to do a big round-up post, but who knows, something might turn out to be a conversation-starter, so I guess I’ll split ’em all up to keep things orderly. Before I get going on that, I just want to say “Thanks!” to the O’Reilly people for putting on this event. What with the new baby I could only stay for about 48 hours, but it felt like a 48-hour-long warm bath for the soul. Not only am I among my tribe, but the people are mostly friendly and mostly witty and quite a few of them are stylish in offbeat and interesting ways, and then a whole bunch of them have become friends over the years. The talks weren’t, on average, as good as the crowd, on average, but then some of them were excellent. Here’s a question: should OSCON become partly an UnConference or Camp or something? I’ve been to some of those and I really like them, but on the other hand, quite a few of the OSCON sessions amount to someone who Really Knows His-or-Her Shit standing on stage laying out what the next few steps are in some deeply important piece of the computing ecosystem. I mean, welcoming grass-roots voices is good, but if you want to know where Python is going, you need to listen to Guido, and if you want the bleeding edge on the Atom Protocol, along with a command-line demo, I’m your guy. Which is to say, information transfer from obsessives is a valid sub-function of tribal gatherings. Having said that, during this kind of session, the dialogue with the audience is organic and spontaneous and the questions are typically so good that there’s really no “authority” relationship between the person with at the front of the room with the microphone and a person in one of the chairs facing them. Still, I think OSCON would benefit from turning one of its days—or even half—into an UnConference. Stand by for more OSCON-driven fragments. [Update: Here’s a contrarian voice. I thought the paper selection was good, but he raises a troubling question: If I hadn’t already known dozens and dozens of attendees, how would I have gone about meeting them?]
 
OSCON - Open Data · During the opening plenary, Tim O’Reilly suggested that the importance of software licensing is decreasing. Software is increasingly a service, running on the Net, while licensing to date has focused on what’s running on your computer. He reported an astounding remark by Stallman, to the effect that his radical notions of freedom are not applicable to the services we all use every day. Tim asks: What standard of open-ness can we apply to Software-as-a-Service offerings, to the Googles, Yahoos, and Amazons of this world? It’s a really important question. I think I know the answer. [Update: Interesting follow-up from Tony Coates.] ...
 
That Open Source Thing · We haven’t been saying much since Java One, so I thought I’d mention that I spent some time this week in the internal work process around Java and Open Source, and that it’s moving along nicely. As of now, I’m really optimistic that it’ll turn out well for the community and for us too.
 
Computers in the Right Places · Previously I wrote that we didn’t have a good process for deploying boxes to deserving recipients; but we’re really making progress. Item: Last month I noted the server for Nexenta. Item: They’re getting the kinks out of the T2000 try-&-buy; now we ship a serial cable so you can bootstrap the sucker, and I hear they’ve weeded out the silly “Do you have a Solaris application?” qualifier; I mean, it’s exactly the people who don’t that we want to talk to. Item: We sent Ultra 20s to Thomas Enebo (get a blog, Thomas) and Charles Nutter (good blog, Charles), AKA the JRuby Posse. Item: I wanted to do something nice for another well-known PHP-based open-source project, and found out that PHP5 runs slower than PHP4 on the T2000, which makes no damn sense at all, a key advantage of PHP is that it’s shared-nothing, as in horizontal scaling, as in, that chip should eat it for breakfast. So I had a talk with Andi Gutmans over at Zend (PHP world headquarters), and he couldn’t see a good reason either. So we’re shipping a T2000 to the Zendians and the problem may become instantly obvious, or it may require some work, but we’ll crack that nut one way or another. [Update: Thomas Enebo has a blog.]
 
Nexenta α2 · I went and got that second alpha release of Nexenta from gnusolaris.org and gave it a try on my Ultra 20. There are still a few rough edges, but it basically works. [Updates: Managed to try NetBeans, and filed my first bug.] ...
 
NeoOffice 1.2 · I see Simon Phipps held forth on the goodness of NeoOffice; probably not by coincidence, release 1.2 showed up today. On top of all its other virtues, Neo has really slick & quick update packages, all per OS X standards. I’ve been slinging them a few bucks now and then, and if you’re on the Mac you should give the software a try too. Remember, C-$2MS.
 
Adium is the Future · The people I work most closely with are located in New Jersey, Southampton (U.K.), Santa Cruz, North Carolina, Prague, and Hamburg. Instant messaging is an essential business tool. I use Adium, which relies on the Gaim multi-protocol IM software. There are a lot of things about it that prefigure the future of software. [Update: Wow! Check out Eric Meyer’s follow-up.] ...
 
OSI · That stands for “Open Source Innovation”, and Dana Blankenhorn suggests there isn’t any. Uh... Apache. Emacs. Vi. Perl. Python. Ruby. PHP. Those were the result of twenty seconds thinking. I don’t think software innovation historically has correlated negatively or positively with open-source-ness. In the future though, I think pretty well all software innovation will be either open-source or inside a big server, because the business model for shipping closed-source software as a product is just too twisted and weird.
 
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.
 
More GNU/Solaris Rumblings · I’ve been harassing people at Sun fairly relentlessly that we need there to be a GNU/Solaris distro, and sooner rather than later, but so far I haven’t convinced any VPs to assign a phalanx of engineers to the project. But hey, the community may just go ahead and do it; there’s a screenshot, even. Hmm.... he mentions www.gnusolaris.org and indeed there’s such a domain, but nothing there yet. Stay tuned.
 
Some OO.oCon Lessons · Yeah, at the conference there were speeches and press briefings and so on, but the main thing was all the good stuff there to be learned, some of which is related here. Plus a rare live photo of a slashdotting experience from the inside. [Update: They fixed the video.] ...
 
COSO · That stands for “Chief Open Source Officer”, and as of now, Sun has one, namely Simon Phipps. We are doing a whole lot of Open-Source stuff, and a lot of different groups are doing it, and we totally need a single point of contact and coordination. Simon’s the obvious choice, and now’s the obvious time. By the way, if you’ve never been to one of Simon’s speeches on things OSS, you should go, he’s always worth listening to.
 
Lunch at LinuxWorld · Oooh, Ubuntu and OpenSolaris, sittin’ in a tree. Whatever we have to do, we should make this happen.
 
Debian Solaris · Check out Alvaro Lopez’s superb piece Why I do think OpenSolaris ought to work with Debian. Call me a radical, but I think that easy installation and upgrading are important. I think Linux got where it is because it was basically easy enough to install and basically good enough to get a lot of jobs done. I think that having apt-get or equivalent Just Work is the single most important value-add Solaris could get. Turn it around: I think a lot of people who need what Solaris has to offer are never going to find out until apt-get or equivalent Just Works. Out of the box. So, thank heavens for OpenSolaris.org, where they’re chewing over Alo’s rant. Smart things are being said, and Eric Boutilier points out there that Gentoo, OpenPKG, and others are looking at this. But then there are people who claim to be Solaris fans saying ignorant, idiotic things like “Linux as a whole does not have anything good to offer, except that ‘it’s free’”. Earth to OpenSolaris: Every community has a few morons; please learn to ignore yours. All this is pretty well a sideshow for the existing Solaris customers, but if we want Solaris to, you know, grow, this is how to do it. Good on ya, Alo, and hang in there, you’re 100% right.
 
Good One, Apple · Hey, all this good open-source karma (much in evidence last week at Java One) seems to be catching; I hear that at WWDC, Apple announced the WebKit Open Source Project, to make the KHTML/OS X combo a real two-way part of the community. Good on ’em, and let’s hope this is just a first step. (Mild Apple gripe; in recent months I’ve had three friends—one by acquisition, one by employment, one by contract—start doing work for Apple, and all of a sudden we can talk about my job but not theirs. Hmph.)
 
Enterprise Open Source · Among the flurry of Java One announcements is GlassFish, CDDL-licensed source code for something called “Sun’s Java System Application Server PE 9”. I said “Huh?” and they explained to me that this was our implementation of the Java EE spec and I said “Oh good, we’re open-sourcing EE!” and they sneered at me and said “No, EE is defined by a particular binary that passes a particular compatibility test, so in principle you couldn’t open-source it”. Uh, right. Anyhow, I am quite sure our efficient PR people will be emitting a flood of details and FAQs, so I’d just like to tsk-tsk gently at our friends out there (you know who you are) that rushed into print last week deploring our cluelessness for not doing what was done today. Hey guys, cut us a little slack. And a tip o’ the hat to Bob Sutor who did.
 
The Java + Open Source Sweet Spot · Check out this piece from Tim O’Reilly. The O’Reilly people track sales trends in tech books, not just their own but the whole industry. They’re transparent about their methodology and in my opinion these numbers are very solid and believable. Anyhow, in this case, you need to read the narrative that goes along with the picture. The growth is being driven by the OSS+Java stuff: Spring, Struts, Lucene, and so on. Hey Tim, how about doing middle-aged eyes a favor and making future versions of the graph a little bigger?
 
OSS Hell, Tiger Edition · Every time there’s a major OS X update the ongoing publishing software, which depends on Perl, MySQL, and ImageMagick all playing nice with each other, and on Emacs, predictably falls apart. Each time, the fix-up recipe is a little different and I do a post here in hopes of aiding others in a similar situation ...
 
Project Harmony · Everybody has now heard about Harmony (if you haven’t, here are the proposal, FAQ, and friendly noises from Sun). Suppose they pull it off, and that there’s an OSS J2SE that anyone can download, build, and change. Why is this a good thing? If you’re a member of the Free Software movement, the project is its own reward for reasons of pure ideology having nothing to do with technology, engineering, or business. I’m not among the faithful, but I’ve nothing against ’em. How about for the rest of us; are there any actually any practical real-world advantages? I’d think the most obvious win would be around patching and bug-fixing. In my experience, OSS software gets bugfixed quicker and better. On the other hand, the Harmonians plan to achieve compatibility by passing the TCK test suite, which everyone says is tough and time-consuming; quite likely, more time-consuming than most individual pieces of bug-fixing. So that might get in the way of the kind of patching responsiveness we’ve gotten used to in OSS-land. [By the way, is it publicly known how long the J2SE TCK actually takes to run? I’ve never seen that published.] I guess you could apply patches without doing a “release” and run an un-TCK’ed J2SE on an interim basis. That might make some people nervous; it would make me nervous. In fact I think the rules say you can’t call it Java unless it’s TCK’d, so I guess we need a new name; I propose “JINJ”. Whatever; whether or not you really think Harmony is worth doing, you have to like people who are hurling themselves at big tough problems, and not in the interests of getting rich. Plus, they’re doing it at Apache, my own favorite OSS nexus. My hat’s off to them.
 
Newsapalooza · I take off for a couple of days of rural isolation and and dial-up access, and the news floodgates break loose. Simon Phipps has good commentary and more pointers. First, a tip of the hat to Poland for their intervention which (at least temporarily) seems to have derailed the EU’s headlong rush to embrace software patents. In all this news, one angle that’s getting little discussion but seems to me a real game-changer has to do with the Microsoft/EU litigation. Microsoft says they’ll ship a version of Windows without Media Player and, while I agree with the EU that they played a little dirty in leveraging the Windows monopoly into the media-player space, this doesn’t seem like that big a deal. What does seem a big deal is the order that they disclose enough of the Exchange and SMB protocols to empower people to build competitive mail/disk servers without having to do arcane reverse-engineering. This genie, I think, can’t be put back in the bottle, however the appeals end-game shakes out, and it’ll be a while before we really understand all the implications.
 
JambOO.o! ·  Via Simon Phipps, a significant step forward for Kiswahili chaingizwa katika Programu Huria na zinazopatikana bure, which is to say “Swahili Free and Open Source Software”: the first ever release of a free office suite software in Swahili, called Jambo OpenOffice. This whole Open/Free software thing, it’s not just one hemisphere or economic sphere or ethnic sphere, it’s, well, everybody everywhere.
 
Open Document Worries · On November 15th, the European Commission posted a bunch of documents covering that office-document-format work that I’ve written about before. Simon Phipps provides a useful overview, but I read the letters from Microsoft and IBM and ran across a couple of scary bits ...
 
Competition · For our own JDS, that is, from Novell’s desktop offering, which got a lengthy review here, albeit from a heavy Linux geek; I’d be more interested in what Mossberg or Wildstrom have to say. Looks like their pricing won’t be that far off ours, either. So here’s the picture: there are now two large, stable, competent companies who can provide you a fully-supported business-friendly desktop suite that will cost a lot less than Microsoft. This is how Free Enterprise is supposed to work. Hold on; it’s going to be an exciting ride.
 
Apple Should Go Open Source · I’m talking about the basic apps like Mail and iChat and Finder and Safari (already partly there) and the iLife suite. It would be good for the community and good for Apple ...
 
NeoOffice/J · I got an email with an attachment I wanted to read whose name ended in .sxw. Clicking on it baffled OS X, so I asked around and someone pointed me at NeoOffice/J, which is part of NeoOffice. I got a hurried and entirely opaque explanation of how this is using Java/Cocoa magic to sweep the Open Office X11 under the carpet, but hey, it seems to work, despite lots of “This is a Beta!” warnings. It handled the .sxw, and then I pointed it at a .doc and a .xls and it was fine with those, too. The only downside so far is it doesn’t have the real Aqua look.
 
Open Source OS X Hell Again · In a previous essay I recounted my travails in getting the GD.pm, and some other Open Source stuff, up and running on the OS X box. I did it again last night, and here are some maybe-helpful hints. If you don’t know what GD.pm might be, you won’t miss anything by skipping this one ...
 
GD Hell · I've been putting a few cycles into souping up the ongoing software to brighten up the front page with an “image of the day,” and also to make the inline versions of the pictures smaller so as to go easier on the modemistas. The programming is pretty easy, but getting the tools together is a walk through Open Source Hell. (Teaser: Contains XML Insider Goodie) ...
 
Image Editing and OSS Awe · Yesterday I posted here wondering about better-than-basic image editing for Mac OS X. Herewith a summary of the guidance I got, and a bit of boggling in the face of the OSS edifice ...
 
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