Mozilla Turns 10 (again)By Sean Kerner | March 31, 2008
From the how many times can you celebrate a birthday files:
Apparently Mozilla differentiates between the day the project was created and the day that source code became available.
Today is a special day.
March 31, 1998 is the date that Mozilla was officially launched.
It's the date the first Mozilla code became publicly available under
the terms of an official open source license and a governing body for
the project - the Mozilla Organization - began its public work
While I'm all for celebrating birthdays -- generally speaking I prefer to celebrate them once per year. Then again 10 is a significant number and it does mark the beginning of the second decade of Mozilla as an open source project -- and the second decade of Open Source itself. The great success that Mozilla has enjoyed in recent years is proof positive that the open source model can scale and innovate. Happy Birthday Mozilla !
Adobe Joins Linux Foundation But Forgets About Flash for LinuxBy Sean Kerner | March 31, 2008
From the 'we like Linux kinda/sorta files:
Adobe is joining the Linux Foundation as part of an effort to show its commitment to Linux. Adobe is also now making its AIR platform available for Linux -- as an Alpha. Finally there is also an update to the alpha version of Adobe Flex Builder 3 for Linux.
It sure sounds all fine and nice, but there is still is a major problem in my view. Adobe does not lead with Linux, it barely stays even with Linux. Adobe's product releases for Linux (proof of which are the AIR and Flex alphas) typically follow those for other platforms.
In a quote on a press release issued by the Linux Foundation about Adobe's decision to join the group, Jim Zemlin, executive director at
The Linux Foundation praises Adobe's move.
"Adobe's decision to join the LF is a natural extension of its commitment
to open standards and open source, which demonstrates its leadership and
foresight in the software industry," said Jim Zemlin, executive director at
The Linux Foundation. "Adobe's membership will contribute to our goal of
increasing even more application development on Linux with a specific
emphasis on Web 2.0 applications."
I would hope that Zemlin will encourage Adobe to now treat Linux as a first class citizen as opposed to an afterthought for release after Windows.
I hope Zemlin will pressure Adobe to finally actually make Flash -- not just the player -- but Flash CS3 Professional, (the core Flash development tool) available for Linux as a fully commercially available and supported product. It is somewhat ironic in my opinion that Adobe can join the Linux Foundation, claim to support Linux and yet not offer its flagship Flash development tool on Linux.
Having the Flash Player, Flex and AIR are great steps, but what about those that want to develop Flash design using Linux -- as opposed to just deploying on Linux?
Earth Hour : I Signed Up, Did You?By Sean Kerner | March 28, 2008
Look I'm not so naive as to think that simply shutting off
the lights for an hour will save the planet (though that would be a neat
We don't need to all become Luddites and renounce
technology and the
power that enables it as some kind of great Satan that needs to be
vanquished. Technology requires power and it always will and there is
nothing wrong with that.
The problem as I see it rests with the fact that
industrialized nations have not found the way to produce mass
quantities of electrical power without significant environmental
impact. If we had say the promise of clean and pure fusion power then
perhaps the need for an Earth Hour would not exist. Fusion however
doesn't exist outside of weapons, advanced research models and oh yeah
the Sun. A few electrical cars on the roads wouldn't be a bad thing
The world is what it is though -- and the Inconvenient Truth - is that our thirst for power is destroying the planet.
I've signed up on the main EarthHour.org website
in support of the global Earth Hour effort. At the very least the mass
attention the issue is getting may help to spur people, governments and
technology to find better ways to generate and use power.
No, I won't ever buy 'carbon offsets' but yes I will virtualize what I
can, turn off servers when I can, use VoIP and collaboration tools
instead of flying and/or driving when I can. Technology is not the
demon that created the power problem, but it could be the angel that
Want a .com Domain? It's Soon Going to Cost More.By Sean Kerner | March 28, 2008
If you're in the market for getting or renewing a dot com or dot net domain name you'd be well advised to do it sooner rather than later. VeriSign is raising the prices of all dot com and dot net domain names - effective October 1, 2008.
Since VeriSign manages ALL dot com and dot net domains, the price increase will affect every domain registrar and domain owner on Earth.
The wholesale price of a .com domain will go from $6.42 to $6.86 while .net will rise from $3.85 to $4.23.
The pricing increases should come as no surprise since it's all part of the deal that VeriSign negotiated with ICANN back in 2006. The ICANN deal was opposed by those who at the time disagreed with the pricing increase model. The pricing model enables VeriSign to raise domain pricing in at least 4 of 6 years by 7 percent which could lead to a 2012 .com domain price of $7.86.
Though I'm personally not thrilled at the prospect of increased .com and .net pricing, I do remember the Dark Ages when Network Solutions was the only registrar and regular people like me could not buy a .com domain name for less than $70.
OpenOffice.org 2.4 Brings New FeaturesBy Sean Kerner | March 27, 2008
Among those that I find interesting are ones that are mostly applicable to its spreadsheet. Those items include: Support for Access 2007 (.accdb files) and a Convert text to columns feature which sure looks handy.
Sun's OOo development team has been keen on some new charting features that provide some interesting options. My personal favorite there is the ability to display both Value and Percentage on a chart. Sure it sounds pedestrian enough, but remember it's the little things that really add polish to software (even though it's the big stuff that often is the 'news').
The 'big' release for OOo is still to come though with OOo version 3 later this year. A key item in that release is expected to be support for Microsoft's Word 2007 .doc format. As well OOo version 3 is set to be the first OOo release under the new LGPLv3 license.
Free Software Isn't SharewareBy Sean Kerner | March 27, 2008
Though all three types Free/Open/Share may well be available for free (as in zero cost), there are some fundamental licensing issues that make them each separate and distinct.
When it comes to Free Software and Shareware, the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) is now taking aim to make sure that Free Software developers' legal rights are not infringed by those who would attempt to distribute their efforts as Shareware.
The SFLC has a new paper out that explains to Free Software developers how they can deal with Shareware related license infringement.
with free software licenses is important, even for shareware. It's the
license that makes the software free," said James Vasile, SFLC Counsel
and author of the paper.
The SFLC argues that violations are common with Shareware.
To date though the SFLC has not acted publicly with any sort of legal action against a Shareware site or vendor. The SFLC has however had four high profile settlements involving GPL license related infractions on behalf of BusyBox.
The SFLC itself is a pro-bono operation, though as of this week it now also has a division that will actually charge for services. Moglen Ravicher LLC (headed by Eben Moglen and Dan Ravicher) is set to handle Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) clients that don't qualify for the pro-bono offer.
Moglen Ravicher LLC already has its first client -- the OpenNMS open source enterprise grade network management solution. The move by OpenNMS to retain legal counsel could well be a signal that they see some kind of infringement of their code.
It will be interesting to see what (if any) legal action or settlements will be forthcoming on both the Shareware and the OpenNMS fronts.
Apple Safari 3.1 Browser Under AttackBy Sean Kerner | March 27, 2008
One flaw is a memory corruption issue that could be exploited if a user is downloading a .ZIP file with a really long filename.
The second flaw is an address bar spoofing issue.
Frankly, I wouldn't have rated both of these issues as 'Highly Critical' myself since they both require user interaction (but hey I'm not currently a full time security researcher).
Then again, Mozilla just fixed a memory corruption related issue with Firefox 126.96.36.199 yesterday, which was rated as "Critical" by Mozilla itself. Though Firefox 188.8.131.52 did fix a spoofing issue which was only rated as being "High".
Apple has not yet made any kind of patch available for Safari 3.1 for the new issues, so if you're running Safari - also use common sense and as always - DON'T VISIT UNTRUSTWORTHY SITES! (but that goes for any browser on any platform).
Microsoft's Open Source Business ConferenceBy Sean Kerner | March 26, 2008
Is this a good thing for Open Source?
This week's Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) is a great case in point. In fact Microsoft had an entire day (ahead of the official conference) for its second annual Open Source ISV forum. At the core conference itself, Sam Ramji (whom I've spoken with before) sat on panels (including: What
Open Source Can Learn From Microsoft and the Proprietary
World) and Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith delivered a keynote.
Wait a sec..what's wrong with this picture?
Isn't Microsoft's legal team (headed up by Smith) the same group that has alleged (without providing any evidence) that Linux and Open Source technologies infringe on over 200 Microsoft patents?
OSBC conference chair Matt Asay blogged that:
I asked Brad to speak because I figured it was the shortest path to
getting clarity from Microsoft vis-a-vis open source and the nettlesome
legal issues that have plagued Microsoft's relationship with open
From my take on Asay's report on the actual keynote which was followed by a panel discussion - there were no real answers forthcoming from Microsoft on the patent issue. Certainly Microsoft has stated before that they can create a bridge with the open source community on intellectual property issues.
I respect what Microsoft is trying to do with its outreach to the Open Source community and I respect the fact that Smith took the stage in front of what wasn't likely to be the most friendly audience he is likely to face. Certainly open discussion on issues is the right way to go. It's much more productive for everyone involved to be open as opposed to just trading barbs and rumors.
Will it actually make a difference?
Well that remains to be seen, but I wouldn't be too surprised to find out that Smith's appearance at OSBC might result in further interoperability - or maybe just further patent deals - with Open Source vendors.
Fedora 9 Hits BetaBy Sean Kerner | March 25, 2008
I spoke with the new Fedora Project Leader Paul Frields last month about Fedora 9 and at the time he highlighted FreeIPA among the new features set to debut in Sulphur. FreeIPA is a tool for system administrators to install, set up and
administer centralized identity management and authentication. On the
enterprise side, Red Hat has already disclosed that a Red Hat
Enterprise IPA product is in development.
The release notes for Fedora 9 also mention something called PackageKit. According to PackageKit.org:
PackageKit is a system designed to make installing and updating software
on your computer easier.
The primary design goal is to unify all the software graphical tools
used in different distributions, and use some of the latest technology
like PolicyKit to make the process suck less.
It's an amazing concept and one that I'll be keen to see work in practical terms. After all software packaging and installation is key to the overall experience of any operating system and with all the different options available to Linux users, having a unified installer is a fantastic idea.
The final release of Fedora 9 is currently set for April 29, leaving a full month of testing to go. Fedora release manager Jesse Keating underscored the importance of testing in his release announcement:
Beta is a point of much greater stability in Fedora's development branch, but some fixes continue to occur to improve usability, performance, and stability. This release is great for early adopters and Linux enthusiasts! The Fedora 9 Beta boots on the majority of systems, and gives you an idea of how the final Fedora 9 will look and feel.
Open Source Business Intelligence Comes to WindowsBy Sean Kerner | March 25, 2008
In an announcement today, JasperSoft announced a new wide ranging partnership with Microsoft to ensure that JasperSoft's BI solutions work well on Windows platforms. A key new initiative is something called JasperSoft ODBO Connect which according to JasperSoft enables Microsoft Excel to be used as a
front-end for the JasperAnalysis data analysis server.
"We are pleased to deliver these tightly integrated products to our Community and
Professional Edition customers," said Brian Gentile, CEO of JasperSoft."Windows Server is a clear standard,
Microsoft Excel is the most widely used desktop data analysis tool, and
JasperSoft is the most widely deployed business intelligence software in the
The ability to use Excel on the front end in my opinion is a huge advancement for JasperSoft and removes a major hurdle for adoption. Considering that it looks like the new ODBO Connect will be available fo rthe Community open source edition as well is all a bonus as it means anyone (and not just paying customers) will benefit from JasperSoft's Microsoft collaboration.
I actually spoke with Gentile a few weeks back (in an interview that didn't go as well as I would have liked) and though he didn't specifically mention any Microsoft issues, he did respond to a question about open source versus proprietary BI. According to Gentile, it no longer matters whether the solution is open source and customers love the fact they can try out the software with ease.
"And when the dust settles we have to
have the features and advantages to compete with anyone," Gentile said. "It's just about BI, fortunately for us."
Mozilla CEO's Apple Safari TiradeBy Sean Kerner | March 24, 2008
From the we're holier than thou files:
What is behind Mozilla CEO John Lilly's anti Apple Safari tirade?
The blog based tirade alleges that Apple was somehow unethical in its distribution of the new Safari 3.1 browser. The basis of the allegation stems from the fact that anyone with the Apple Updater on Windows (and that includes millions of iTunes users) automatically got a notice to update Safari 3.1, even if they never had installed Safari before.
Personally though I'm not a fan of that kind of practice, it's unfortunately very common.
Think about all the different sites and tools that you use that have prompted you to download the Google Toolbar for example (often with the checkbox to install the Google Toolbar already selected).
So why did Lilly decide to go after Apple? Why hasn't he gone after Google or others who do the same thing?
Well in the case of Google which provides the bulk of Mozilla's revenues (and thus Lilly's salary as well), accosting Google would be biting the hand that feeds them.
Maybe Lilly is afraid of Safari. Maybe he's afraid that it's actually not a bad browser and that Safari is a real potential threat to Mozilla Firefox's challenge to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
Safari includes speed and HTML 5 type features not currently available in the generally available Firefox 2.x release. Safari is also based on WebKit which is gaining popularity as the mobile browser platform of choice. Of course iTunes is wildly popular so maybe the fear is that if a user likes iTunes (and their iPod) they may be inclined to like Safari as well.
No it is not ideal to have a piece of software listed on an update screen that you've never installed. It is however a good marketing ploy by Apple and Apple sure is a saavy marketer. Perhaps Mozilla should take a page from the Apple playbook and suggest that Firefox users look at Thunderbird too (it might make for a whole lot more Thunderbird downloads).
Until the day comes (if ever) when a unified updater for all the different types of software from all the different vendors is available, vendor specific updater programs will continue and vendor suggestions for cross marketing (and other products) is likely to continue.
New Firefox Update Coming March 25thBy Sean Kerner | March 21, 2008
From the everyone wants the latest 'fox' files:
Mozilla developers have announced that Firefox 184.108.40.206 release candidate builds are now available.
The final generally available release for 220.127.116.11 is currently set for March 25th (though I suspect it could be sooner). Firefox 18.104.22.168 is a a security and stability update for the current mainline Firefox 2.x series and will be the first stable release since Firefox 22.214.171.124 release in mid February.
We don't yet have a full list of security advisories for the release (those typically don't happen till the actual release date). That said we do know that Mozilla has advised testers of the 126.96.36.199 release candidate to double check the browser on Ajax heavy sites:
Sites that use a lot of AJAX, like Google sites, should also be checked for any potential regressions
While the latest Firefox 2.x is rounding third, Reuters has a story out now claiming that Firefox 3 is ready for prime time. Considering that Firefox 3 is at Beta 4, with at least one more Beta to go and possibly one or more release candidates after that, I'm not sure that Reuters is accurate. If Firefox 3 was indeed ready for prime time, wouldn't it already be generally available then and not considered to be just for testing?
Don't get me wrong, I like Firefox 3 Beta 4 and am using it now myself. It's just that as I've reported before and as Mozilla developers themselves have stated before - Firefox 3 will be ready when its ready. I personally do not understand this preoccupation with pushing something out to the public before its fully baked.
AjaxWorld - The iPhone Is A LureBy Sean Kerner | March 20, 2008
NEW YORK. I'm sitting in the iPhone Summit part of AjaxWorld now in a session titled "Social Computing: the iPhone as an ideal platform". Sounds like a neat topic right? It is...but too bad the actual session didn't stick to the topic.
The session is being delivered by Steve Markya CTO of ICEsoft Technologies who essentially used the podium as a platform to pitch his company's technology - the ICEface open source Java server faces (JSF) project.
The presentation started off on the right track with Markya explaining to the audience that though the iPhone is powerful it is resource constrained in the sense that it doesn't have the same power as a desktop computer.
There are also implications around network bandwidth - so large applications will suffer from slow applications start times since code would need to load into the device.
Maryka then showed an iPhone demo - not a demo using the iPhone SDK emulator - but a REAL iPhone that he placed under a camera. What he did was a simple demonstration showing a proof of concept application (for a Taxi ordering service) running on the real iPhone.
Neat stuff. Now how do I get some?
ICEfaces itself is an Ajax framework that Maryka explained enables developers to easily create server centric rich internet applications in pure Java. The system works by extending JSF (java server faces) which is a component model for JavaEE development.
The extensions that ICEfaces adds are :Automatic Ajax (which helps to minimize the number of updates required so you get an optimized/minimized app).,It also includes what Maryka referred to as Ajax push which delivers a server side push for the app deliver.
It all sounded fine and good until Maryka got into giving an overview of the development environment, where he noted at numerous points that there were components inside of the framework that wouldn't work on an iPhone.
So, a member of the audience piped up and asked if ICEfaces currently has a specific tool for iPhone optimizations (which after all is why people likely came into the session - the iPhone right??).
Maryka dodged the question a bit noting that iPhone specific optimizations were being worked on
He was then asked when those optimizations would be publicly available - Maryka responded that they would likely be part of their 2.0 roadmap release (the project is currently set for its 1.7 release).
In any event the ability to deliver optimized Java developed applications in a compact push format is a great thing for any mobile platform (including the iPhone). The fact that ICEfaces is open source (and freely available) is also a great thing because it means its very accessable for developers to actually try out and see if it for themselves (and their own iPhones).
AjaxWorld - Widgets are hereBy Sean Kerner | March 20, 2008
NEW YORK. Everyone wants Widgets (right?) but what are widgets? And more importantly how can you build them easily?
That information is something I was hoping to get from a session at AjaxWorld called, "The Social Aggregator - Widgets Reshape the Social Web". It was supposed to be delivered by Clearspring founder Hooman Radfar
but apparently he wasn't available so Justin Thorp developer community manager at Clearspring took his place.
Thorp had a few very interesting observations that I generally speaking agree with :
"It's not about your website," Thorp said. "I don't go there to appreciate your layout, I go because of your content."
Very true and also very disheartening in many ways isn't it? We spend time and effort perfecting our website layouts but outside of our own bubble does anyone care about it -- beyond the content?
Very true and also very disheartening in many ways isn't it? We spend time and effort perfecting our website layouts but outside of our own bubble does anyone care about it -- beyond the content?
What is a widget other than a buzzword? Widgets are mini web apps placed in side other web apps. Widget is a category rather than a specific technology.
Widgets are also mainstream now. According to Comscore data cited by Thorp 81 percent of US web users saw a widget in November of
The real key in Thorp's view is that widgets act as social aggregators enabling user to more easily select, view and share content across platforms. There are some issues though, among them is the fact that different aggregation tools and sites (iGoogle, Facebook and PageFlakes among them) use differing standards to implementing widgets - which might require developers to have multiple widgets (one for each aggregation platform).
That's where Clearspring (and its competitors like WidgetBox) come in. Clearspring offers the promise of a write once run anywhere widget platform. So instead of having to write different widgets for different sites you just do it
once and get one click viral distribution.
Sounds neat doesn't it?
There are some issue though among them is the question of how to monetize widgets. Another is how do you measure the success of a widget and how do define success for a widget in the first place.
It seems to me though that if you think of widgets as a vehicle to help drive traffic (and build your brand) to your site's content - then you're not going to go too far wrong.
AjaxWorld - IBM's Project Zero Gears up for ReleaseBy Sean Kerner | March 19, 2008
NEW YORK. IBM is in the final developement stages of a new software platform release for delivery of RESTful (DEFINE:REST) services. Currently known as 'Project Zero', the effort is officially defined by IBM as, " an agile development and execution environment which leverages REST and scripting runtimes to speed and simplify development and deployment of dynamic Web applications."
The details of Project Zero were explained in an AjaxWorld session by Roland Barcia lead Web 2.0 architect for IBM Software Services for WebSphere. Barcia noted at the end of his presenation that Project Zero would be going GA (generally available) 'very soon.'
Project Zero is an interesting concept that provides a stripped down Java environment for delivery of SOA, RIA and mashups in a web environment. It's not just about Java though as it also support PHP as a scripting runtime though IBM does not support the full PHP lanuage as is currently available via PHP.net, but rather just a subset. To my simplistic ears it sounded like IBM essentially has its own 'flavor' of PHP. Barcia explained that Project Zero's PHP runtime is codenamed P9 and it's built on top of IBM' J9 JVM.
The whole effort is supposed to be easy to create for and deploy with an integrated app server. As well there is an Eclipse IDE and a web based IDE for development. In fact the web based IDE also included some Ajax Dojo widgets and looked to me like it could be the basis of a new super web based Ajax IDE.
Project Zero is being developed by IBM as an 'open' project which should not be confused with open source. Barcia explained that the project is being developed in the open at ProjectZero.org and is available under a commercial license.
As to whether or not Project Zero will ever become open source Barcia simply shrugged and said: "We'll see where the community takes us."
iPhone vs. Android : An Open Source Devs PerspectiveBy Sean Kerner | March 19, 2008
NEW YORK. All right here's the question everyone wants to know - What's better - Apple iPhone or Google Android?
According to Andrea Gazzaniga, software development manager at mobile open source vendor Funambol the answer is not entirely clear. In a rambling overflow presentation at AjaxWorld's iPhone Sumitt, Gazzaniga attempted to outline the differences and similiaraties between iPhone and Android.
"iPhone is cool and that's what's bringing us all here," Gazzaniga said. "With Android the claim is that it will be open and we're hoping it will overcome the closed nature of current mobile development.
Gazzaniga had a few other (not so startling) points such as Android is based on Linux while the iPhone is based on Mac OS. For the most part Gazzaniga implied that Android from an app developers point of view behaves much the same as iPhone, though he did point out a few serious limiations to the iPhone (from what he could tell from the iPhone SDK).
According to Gazzaniga iPhone does not allow in its SDK for background processes. That is an app must close when the users leaves it. The obvious question resulting from that issue then is - how does an application listen for a network event after a user leaver it ? (for instant messaging or sync operations).
There is not official email integration in the iPhone SDK which begs the question - is it possible to deliver email other than with Apple's client and built-in protocols? Gazzaniga also noted that developers of iPhone native applications will need Apple to distribute their applications. As an example Gazzaniga commented that you can't get Skype for the iPhone today.
Overall though in my view, Gazzaniga's presentation left the audience with more questions than answers. It will be interesting to see as the iPhone and Android SDKs mature and gain adoption, precisely what the differences between the two are from a practical point of view.
Open Source Needs Its 'Father' BackBy Sean Kerner | March 19, 2008
Bruce Perens - the guy that helped coin the term open source and author of the Open Source Definition, is on a mission. He wants back into the Open Source Initiative (OSI) the 'defining' body for Open Source that blesses what is and isn't Open Source.
Considering that this is the tenth year of Open Source (which I blogged about in Feb), how could the OSI not want its' 'Father' back?
In my time writing for InternetNews.com I've had the opportunity to chat with Perens numerous times and he always has some neat insights. While Perens has helped me on stories (and the Open Source community in general) he now needs help - to get on the OSI executive board.
One problem I'd like to help solve is the over-representation of
vendors, particularly the kind that have an Open Source product as
their profit-center rather than part of operations. The vast majority
of Open Source developers, paid or volunteer, are not in that sort of
business, yet vendors tend to dominate the leadership of organizations
like OSI and conferences about Open Source in business, to the point
that many people have been led to believe that they are the most
important participants. I'm not anti-vendor, I've built several of them
and currently own one. But I think that vendor-domination of Open
Source inevitably dilutes the rights of everyone else.
So far Perens petition for community support has garnered over 1000 signatures - Will your signature be one of them?.
AjaxWorld - PHP Next Gen RIA SuperheroBy Sean Kerner | March 18, 2008
NEW YORK. Ajax and RIAs (Rich Internet Applications) are often all about the 'WOW', the front end graphical dynamic interface.
In a crowded AjaxWorld session, Andi Gutmans CTO of Zend
- a backend that Gutmans hopes will be PHP based.
Gutmans spent much of his AjaxWorld session talking about the benefits of the newly
released Zend Framework 1.5 and how it can help
quite enough though as Gutmans demonstrated a proof of concept application that
provided a push (as opposed to pull) mechanism for content delivery.
nutshell what his test application involved was a seperate Comet server as well
as the LightHTTPd webserver in order to create a dynamic
Comet specification is a low latency continuous communication channel between a
browser based application and the server. With
to a data stream, Gutmans commented that Comet is a very important technology to have. For his proof of concept Zend developed a rough Comet implementation in PHP, though there is much work still to be done.
of the key deployment challenges of
Gutmans' view is the latency issue since
activity requires many browser to server roundtrips to deliver data.
So, what is the key to improving Ajax and paving the way for the next generation of Ajax apps?
think this year you'll see more work done on the server sisde as opposed to
just the pretty side of RIA," Gutmans said.
AjaxWorld - IBM's Mashup Hub and OpenAjax (network not included)By Sean Kerner | March 18, 2008
NEW YORK. Nearly a year after first announcing Mashup Hub, IBM is still keen on its online mashup application. In a standing room only session at AjaxWorld in NYC IBM staffer Dan Gisolfi preached the wisdom of IBM's mashup ways to the Ajax crowd.
IBM staffers also talked about the OpenAjax widget specifications which will more easily enable widget development that will run across a wide variety of platforms.
Gisolfi was joined at the podium with David Boloker, CTO of Emerging Technology at IBM. Boloker is Ajax 'royalty' being one of the cofounders of the OpenAjax Alliance.
"Data is the center of the mashup ecosystem, everything builds
from there," Gisolfi said." Discovering assets and then making use of them and wiring them
together to create a new app that you can share."
The focus of the IBM presentation was supposed to be about the mashup ecosystem and how an enterprise can leverage it. Unfortunately the presenters spent way too much of their time trying to figure out how to get network access to show their mashups. I guess they probably should have spent more time working on 'local' hosted mashups (which is what they tried to do at one point).
With only five minutes left in the scheduled presentation, they finally figured out how to get a live connection (NOTE: I'm in the same session right now and I've got a connection - which is how I'm blogging this entry).
So the lesson here? DON'T ever rely on having a network connection (even if one exists) when you're trying to show mashups at a conference - which is a paradox in some ways since mashups rely on online data.
Apple Safari 3.1 - The Fastest Browser Yet?By Sean Kerner | March 18, 2008
Safari loads web pages 1.9 times faster than IE 7 and 1.7 times faster
In addition to its alleged blazing speed Apple has also made a leap forward with its support for HTML 5 audio and video tags. HTML 5 is still years away from being an approved W3C spec and the audio and video tagging mechanism (which is essentially a new variant of an <embed> tag) is still the subject of debate.
Safari 3.1 also supports CSS animations - which also are not yet widely supported (if at all) in the broader web community. That said, someone has to be first in supporting HTML 5 specifications, though I suspect that at this early stage we'll just end up with multiple implementations of the same spec with Mozilla, Apple and Microsoft all favoring their own implementation.
As for the claim of the 'World's Fastest Browser' ?
Well, it's no secret that IE is slow and that Firefox 2.x is a memory hog. So Apple may (and I stress the word 'may' ) well be correct. Then again Firefox 3 is rounding third and nearly done - boasting tremendous speed and performance improvements.
While speed and functionality are the headliners for Safari 3.1, Apple has also plugged a number of Cross Site Scripting (XSS) flaws in the new browser release. I guess you can be fast AND secure.
Verizon Settles GPL LawsuitBy Sean Kerner | March 17, 2008
The Verizion law suit was originally filed in early December of 2007 , and alleged that Verizon had infringed on the GPL by way of its distribution of BusyBox inside of Actiontec equipment that was distributed to Verizon's FiOS customers.
BusyBox is a collection of Unix utilities optimized for size, and which
are most commonly used in embedded environments. The SFLC claimed that
the Actiontec router includes BusyBox code, which under the GPL means
that Verizon is obligated to distribute source code with the router.
The suit charged that the company fails to do this.
The settlement calls for Actiontec to appoint an Open Source Compliance Officer as well as ensuring that Actiontec properly makes available the BusyBox source code that it uses. Additionally Actiontec will pay BusyBox an 'undisclosed' financial sum.
"We are happy to have settled this matter in a way that upholds the GPL and the interests of our clients," said Dan Ravicher, Legal Director of SFLC in a statement.
The Verizon suit was the fourth legal action undertaken by the SFLC on behalf of BusyBox. All four cases have now been settled. SFLC has now settled with Monsoon Multimedia, Xterasys Corporation and High-Gain Antennas. All four cases have involved the appointment of an Open Source Compliance Officer as well as an undisclosed financial payment.
Is Trend Micro Secure?By Sean Kerner | March 14, 2008
Quick rhetorical question here - but if a malware security vendor doesn't have the tools/technology/people to protect their own site, can they actually call themselves a secure company?
Bottom line here (and i've heard this from many vendors over the years) is that even companies that think they are secure can be compromised from any number of different sources. The real key in my opinion is eternal vigilance and transparency so that others can learn and by extension, ensure that we're all safer as a result.
PC-BSD 1.5 Brings BSD to the DesktopBy Sean Kerner | March 14, 2008
There are those that have a hard time thinking about BSD as a desktop possibility.
It's just for servers right?
PC-BSD continues to prove otherwise with the latest PC-BSD 1.5 release. This latest release is based on FreeBSD 6.3 (as opposed to the bleeding edge FreeBSD 7 branch) and includes improvements to the PBI (Push Button Installer) toolset.
As always with PC-BSD, it uses the KDE desktop, this time rebased to KDE 3.5.8. (Again not the bleeding edge of development which would be KDE 4.x,).
Comcast at 100G (Gigabits/sec)By Sean Kerner | March 13, 2008
From the we're faster than you files:
I've been writing about the race to 100G for some time and for the most part it has just been about when it will be ready.
How does today sound?
Comcast is testing a 100G solution from Nortel Networks this week. According to Nortel and Comcast, the trial will mark the first time that actual real internet traffic will travel at 100G on Comcast's existing network which includes both 10G and 40G links today.
"Comcast is testing the very future of networking with this 100G
network trial. We can only imagine what new innovations may be sparked
by the capabilities made possible with this technology," said Philippe
Morin, president, Metro Ethernet Networks, Nortel in a statement.
Today the fastest connection that service providers have been able to deploy is 40G (usually OC-768). The leap to 100G is a massive step forward, especially since (as Nortel and Comcast are demonstrating this week) it can be done with the existing fiber that is already in the ground.
Spitzer Prostitute's MySpace PicsBy Sean Kerner | March 13, 2008
I don't care much for social networking sites like MySpace.com, but they sure can be a real help for media sometimes. The recent 'outing' of (soon to be former) Gov. Spitzer's high priced call girl by the New York Times is a case in point. Front pages of newspapers around North America this morning have copied Ashley Alexandra Dupre's MySpace.com images many thousands (millions?) of times over.
I suspect (and if I'm wrong please let me know) that Ms. Dupre's images will not earn MySpace.com (or Ms.Dupre) a single penny (though I suppose it's indirect marketing for MySpace in a way).
So now as a matter of course, if images (personal or otherwise) appear on MySpace they can apparently be copied at will by whoever wants to have them. Isn't that a bit of a copyright issue though? I mean just because an image is on a social networking site does that by default allow anyone to copy and reuse it without cost?
The parent company of InternetNews.com, Jupitermedia makes a good sum of cash from its JupiterMedia images business which is all about reselling image rights.
How much would the rights to Ms. Dupre's images be worth?
I'd bet that she'd end up making more $$ from her image than she ever made 'as a working girl' for Spitzer.
SFLC Rejects Microsoft's Open Specification PromiseBy Sean Kerner | March 12, 2008
The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) has just come out with a scathing analysis of Microsoft's Open Specification Promise(OSP). In short, the SFLC concludes that the OSP still leaves developers with the potential for patent risk.
In a release on the analysis the SFLC noted that:
SFLC published the paper in response to questions from its clients and the community about the OSP and its compatibility with the GNU General Public License (GPL). The paper says that the promise should not be relied upon because of Microsoft's ability to revoke the promise for future versions of specifications, the promise's limited scope, and its incompatibility with free software licenses, including the GPL.
That's pretty harsh, but then again when the latest iteration of the OSP first became public I had my fair share of questions too.
Considering the influence of the SFLC on open source matters (which is non-trivial to say the least) it will be very interesting to see how Microsoft responds to the analysis in the coming days (and weeks). Check out the full analysis paper for yourself to get the gory details.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 Beta Now AvailableBy Sean Kerner | March 12, 2008
The 5.2 release is the second incremental release since RHEL 5 was released in March of 2007 (RHEL 5.1 Beta appeared in August of 2007). With the 5.2 release Red Hat is adding virtualization enhancements including the ability to handle a 64 CPU system. Additionally the critical 'libvirt' technology which helps to manage the virtualization instances now gets remote management support.
IPv6 support also gets a boost in RHEL 5.2 with the addition of a DHCPv6 client and server (regular DHCP doesn't quite handle the longer IPv6 addresses all that well).
Red Hat has also improved on a long list of driver and architecture specific improvements in the 5.2 Beta.
A Beta is also a great place to try out new technology as well and that's where the 'Technology Preview' components come into play. Among the preview items in the 5.2 Beta is Trusted Computing Group (TCG) / Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Support. TCG/TPM is often a requirement in high security and government deployments and having it baked into the regular mainstream version of RHEL is likely to be very attractive for allot of potential customers.
Red Hat expects the beta testing period for Red Hat Enterprise Linux to continue until May 7, 2008
Please Note: Wal-Mart is STILL SELLING LinuxBy Sean Kerner | March 11, 2008
Reality is that just as you could last week, you can go to Wal-Mart.com (and here I'll make it easy for you and even give you the link: http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=8304655) and buy the Everex gPC today.
As a regular Wal-Mart customer myself, I can tell you that if there is something 'neat' and not necessarily mainstream that I'm looking for, I'll generally go to Wal-Mart.com first and then order it from there (generally ship to store and then pick it up). Sure Wal-Mart no longer offers ship to store for the Everex gPC and they don't have it in stock either on their shelves but that's all part of the Wal-Mart model.
Wal-Mart is all about volume and margins.
For a product to remain on their shelves they need to be able to sell it at reasonable volumes and then be able to take a reasonable (though often thin) margin. Linux PCs ARE NOT a volume business at this point. That's not Wal-Mart's fault and in fact when Wal-Mart first announced they would be selling the gPC I actually suggested that people don't buy it. The reality is first you need to create demand and awareness. While price alone at Wal-Mart can often drive demand, when you've got little mass consumer mind share with Linux for the consumer desktop it's hard to justify Linux on every Wal-Mart's 'real' shelves.
That said, I think it's GREAT that you can order it online from Walmart.com which after all is one of the leading ecommerce sites on Earth.
What might be interesting to see is if Dell (which now sells certain computers at Wal-Mart) will eventually offer an Ubuntu PC. Dell with its own volumes could likely strike a shelf space deal with Wal-Mart that a smaller vendor like Everex simply could not.
900 Fixes For Firefox 3 Beta 4By Sean Kerner | March 11, 2008
On the surface Mozilla has again made some minor cosmetic changes to Firefox 3 that vary depending on whether you're running Windows XP, Windows Vista, Linux/GNOME or MAC OS X.
The 900 fixes though seem to be mostly in the bug fix and performance improvement area according to Mozilla's release notes:
[Improved in Beta 4!]
Firefox 3 Beta 4 includes more than 900 enhancements from
the previous beta, including drastic improvements to performance and memory
usage, as well as fixes for stability, platform enhancements and user interface
improvements. Many of these improvements were based on community feedback from
the previous beta.
While 900 enhancement sure sounds like alot it's actually a drop from the Beta 3 release when Mozilla boasted 1300 improvements - though in that release they claimed that only 50 or so were specifically memory related improvements.
I suspect that as was the case with Beta 3 alot of the memory improvements in Beta 4 come by way of the XPCOM (Cross Platform Component Object
Mode) cycle collector that identifies objects that aren't being used
and releases them from
memory. XPCOM was first deployed as part of the Firefox 3 Beta 1 release in November.
Mozilla has planned for at least one more Beta (Beta 5) before Firefox 3 will hit the release candidate stage. It's not yet clear how many release candidate there might be or how long it will actually be till Firefox 3 is considered to be final. From my point of view, it's not a race at this point. IE 8 is just in Beta 1 (and it's got a tonne of issues), it's far better for Mozilla to fully shake and bake Firefox 3 before releasing it to the masses. After all who wants a buggy browser?
Open Source Gnash (Flash) Hits First BetaBy Sean Kerner | March 10, 2008
From the better late than never files:
The first beta release of Gnash has just been made at version 0.8.2. Gnash is a GPL'd SWF movie player and browser plugin for Firefox, Mozilla, and Konqueror. Gnash supports many SWF v7 features and ActionScript 2 classes. with growing support for SWF v8 and v9.
While the Beta of Gnash does demonstrate a degree of stability and progress in the effort it still has some work to do. Among the work to be done is full support of the latest Flash version 9 as well as ActionScript 3.
Though this is the first official Beta, work has been ongoing for the
past two years getting Gnash up to speed.
Gnash is an important project
for the Free Software community. In fact, the creation of a GPL'ed
Flash player is a top priority of the Free Software Foundation
(FSF). Even though Adobe has made strides in recent years to be more
open with its Flash based technologies, the FSF and others in the Free
Software community still see a real need for a GPL version of Flash
- which to date is something that Adobe has not attempted to do.
Mozilla Expands Prism Desktop EffortBy Sean Kerner | March 07, 2008
Mozilla's greatest success to date has come from its online efforts with the Firefox web browser. Since at least October of last year they've been working on the Mozilla Prism effort to bring the online experience to the desktop.
That effort is taking a major step forward today.
Instead of struggling with Mozilla Prism to create a standalone desktop version of a Web app, there is now a point and click browser plugin to do the magic.
Today we're releasing a major update to Prism that includes new desktop
integration capabilities and simpler installation. With this update,
you can now get Prism simply by installing a small extension to Firefox
3. With the new Prism extension for Firefox 3,
users can now split web applications directly out of Firefox without
needing to install and manage a separate Prism application. Just
install the extension, browse to a web app, then select Tools >
Convert Website to Application.
Mozilla takes a modest approach on its Labs page for Prism stating that, Prism is not a new platform or product but rather a vehicle for Mozilla
Labs to experiment with new technologies to extend the capabilities of
the Open Web.
Yes this is still an early Mozilla Labs prototype, but it is very
encouraging and has widespread implications for Web based software apps
and Software as a Service.
The ability to make a desktop enabled web application with very little effort could well expand both the distribution and usability of countless applications.
Open Office Gets Patent Protection With LGPLv3By Sean Kerner | March 07, 2008
OOo had previously been available under the LGPL v2 so it's not a leap across party lines but it is still a major step and a major win for LGPL v3. The LGPL is similar to the regular GPL except for the critical area of what is commonly known as 'code infection'. That is with regular GPL you run the risk when including it with other software that you might need to license the other code as GPL as well (of course that's a real dramatic over simplification but I hope you get my point).
The real driver for Sun (which leads the OOo community) in moving to LGPL v3 is the issue of patents. In a blog post Sun's Simon Phipps explains:
Upgrading to the LGPLv3 brings important new protections to the
OpenOffice.org community, most notably through the new language
concerning software patents. You may know that I am personally an opponent of software patents, and that Sun has already taken steps in this area with a patent non-assert covenant for ODF. But the most important protection for developers comes from creating mutual patent grants between developers. LGPLv3 does this.
So rack up another win for (L)GPLv3, it will be interesting to see how the momentum for the new license continues through 2008.
US-CERT Warns of Java VulnerabilitiesBy Sean Kerner | March 06, 2008
US-CERT is warning users to upgrade their Java installations to protect against a number of serious security vulnerabilities.
Sun has released alerts to address multiple vulnerabilities affecting the Sun Java Runtime Environment. The most severe of these vulnerabilities could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code.
In total it's difficult to grasp how many seperate vulnerabilities there actually are in Java. According to US-CERT, Sun issued no less than 7 seperate alerts some of which detail multiple security vulnerabilities.
Among them are:
* 233321 Two Security Vulnerabilities in the Java Runtime
Environment Virtual Machine
* 233322 Security Vulnerability in the Java Runtime Environment With
the Processing of XSLT Transformations
* 233323 Multiple Security Vulnerabilities in Java Web Start May
Allow an Untrusted Application to Elevate Privileges
* 233324 A Security Vulnerability in the Java Plug-in May Allow an
Untrusted Applet to Elevate Privileges
* 233325 Vulnerabilities in the Java Runtime Environment image
* 233326 Security Vulnerability in the Java Runtime Environment May
* 233327 Buffer Overflow Vulnerability in Java Web Start May Allow
an Untrusted Application to Elevate its Privileges
At risk are multiple Sun Java Runtime Environment versions that US-CERT details in its alert. So if you're one of the many Java users that doesn't have automatic updates for Java - go get the latest version of Java now!
Get Microsoft's IE 8 Activities For Firefox TodayBy Sean Kerner | March 06, 2008
From the 'whatever you can do, I can do better' files:
Among the 'exciting' new features of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) is something called 'Activities' (which as many open source browser users know really is just a form of the microformats standards that Firefox already supports).
To go a step further, IBM staffer (and noted Mozilla contributor) Mike Kaply has just updated his Operator Firefox microformats extension with a new Activities Extension to have the same sort of functionality as IE 8's Activities. I wrote about Kaply and Operator a few months back - Operator is an easy to use and powerful extension.
You can install activities from the Service Gallery,
and then if you open a new window, those activities will be active
(they don't become active in the page you download them from - working
on that). To use an activity, highlight some text and right click on
it. If folks think this is interesting, I'll keep working on it. Enjoy.
Go figure. Microsoft keeps its new 'feature' secret for over a year and its already available for Firefox.
First Look Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8)By Sean Kerner | March 05, 2008
As was the case with IE 7 be VERY careful if you're trying this out at home/work as by default IE 8 replaces your IE 7 installation.
With IE 8 Microsoft has also been somewhat more explicit than they were with IE 7 in terms of setup options.
They also have some interesting setup options for something that they call 'Activity Providers' . Things like blog services, maps and translation services among numerous others.
WebSlices which according to Microsoft's description, "is a new feature for websites to connect to their users by
subscribing to content directly within a webpage. WebSlices behave
just like feeds where clients can subscribe to get updates and
notify the user of changes."
They've also defaulted to a more standards compliant mode by default for IE 8. While standards sound nice, the brutal reality is that in a quick look through with IE 8 I found that many sites just don't look right. Sure there is an IE 7 mode to look at sites, but I suspect the standards compliance issue will be the biggest hurdle facing both Microsoft and its users with this first release of IE 8
Dries Buytaert Open Source Rock Star / Entrepreneur?By Sean Kerner | March 05, 2008
In the world of technology we're always looking for the latest 'rock star'. Who is that next hot tech visionary that will build an adoring following of thousands?
In my opinion we can now add the founder of the open source content management system Drupal (and its commercial startup Acquia) Dries Buytaert to the rock star list. This week he launched Acquia with $7 million in funding. He also hosted a Drupal lovefest (DrupalCon Boston) which boasted over 800 attendees.
It's all a far cry from the humble beginnings in a Belgian dorm room a few short years ago. I asked Buytaert about those humble beginnings and about the surprises he's had along the way. This is what he had to say:
When I started working on Drupal I never expected this to happen. From that point of view it has certainly been a surprise and I have been rolled into this by accident.
But over past couple of years I have worked really hard on this and my goal was to advance Drupal and make it a really great platform and eventually a Drupal company.
So it started out as an accident and it was a surprise that people started using it more and more. Then I changed my mindset and it grew on me and then in the last couple of years I really wanted to take it to the next level by starting a company.
I also asked Buytaert if there were any specific surprises that he has encountered.
For me the history of Drupal is a chain of interesting surprises. Initially many of these surprises were quite small but at the time they seemed big. For example three years ago we had the very first Drupal conference in Antwerp where I live in Belgium and we had 40 or 50 people show up and that was huge.
Finally I asked Buytaert if he considers Drupal to be a success at this point or if success is still in the making.
I think we've already been successful but at the same time depending on what you compare Drupal with there still are a lot of successes to obtain. So we have a lot more work to do to get Drupal where it needs to be.
Specifically where I would like to go is to further democratize web publishing to make it possible for people to really express themselves online without having to be a developer or a designer. We want to get Drupal to the point where it's powerful and easy to use so a lot of people can create compelling and complex websites which I don't think they can do today.
So is Buytaert open source rock star material? I think so. But what do you think?
Cisco's Magical Fairy Tale RouterBy Sean Kerner | March 04, 2008
What does Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Cupid and the Stork all have in common?
Well beyond being fairy tale kind of characters, they're all apparently Cisco customers too.
Sure the actual launch event webcast had networking super-star and Cisco CEO John Chambers, but apparently real star power (and users) rests with Santa and his fairy tale friends.
YES it is a little cheesy, especially for a platform that cost $250 million to develop, but it is also funny.
In one of the Cisco clips with the baby delivering Stork, the Stork talks about why the ASR will help him in his job. Apparently the ASR 1000 will help prevent deliveries from going to the wrong parents which as the stork relates in the Cisco ad, is always a bummer.
So remember, it's not just magic pixie dust that gives mythical characters their power - it's also the (Cisco) network.
SCO Files Formal Chapter 11 Reorganization PlanBy Sean Kerner | March 04, 2008
What this means in plain English is that the $100 million bailout (which is really just $5 million up front with the rest on credit) is a little closer to reality today than it was two weeks ago.
Under the terms of the reorganization plan, SCO plans to repay (with interest if applicable) approved creditors'
claims. As well SCO also includes in its filing that it would provide full payment (with
interest, if applicable) on all claims subject to pending litigation (if, when
and to the extent the courts allow such claims).
That said, SCO and its new backers at Stephen Norris Capital Partners (SNCP) aren't looking to lose on their ongoing litigation.
In a statement provided by Norris in a SCO release Stephen Norris stated:
"This reorganization plan is a positive step for SCO's customers, partners and
stockholders and a major win for all parties. This plan will enable it to grow
its business, especially outside the U.S., and if possible, settle its
outstanding litigation on a favorable and reasonable basis."
The reorganization plan though still has at least one major hurdle though - it
needs to actually be approved by the Bankruptcy Court. The hearing on
approval of the plan is now scheduled for April 2, 2008.
AllPeers Firefox BitTorrent Service Shuts DownBy Sean Kerner | March 03, 2008
It wasn't the DMCA or the RIAA's fault (honest).
The AllPeers BitTorrent service for Firefox announced today that they were shutting down their service because they weren't meeting investor expectations.
In a blog post Matthew Gertner, AllPeer's CTO, noted that AllPeers has not achieved the kind of growth in their user base that their investors were
expecting, and as a result they were not able to continue operating the service
When we started working on AllPeers, we knew that it was an ambitious project
with no guarantee of success. Such is the nature of any software startup.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
When I last spoke with Gertner back in September of 2007 he told me that though AllPeers is open source it isn't run as a non-profit. The goal was to
make money eventually.
As it turns out with Web 2.0 you actually have to make money to stay in business (go figure).
Since AllPeers technology was open source however, users aren't totally out of luck. If there are users that want to continue to develop the technology and possible expand it or re-invent it they could. That's the magic of open source, just because a company is dead doesn't mean the technology must die as well. It will be interesting to see in the months ahead what will actually happen to the AllPeers technonology and whether or not Gertner's investors jumped ship a little too early or not.
Going Offline with Pidgin 2.4.0By Sean Kerner | March 03, 2008
Pidgin is what's known as a multi-headed IM client with support for AIM, ICQ, Jabber/XMPP, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, IRC, Novell
GroupWise Messenger, QQ, Lotus Sametime, SILC, SIMPLE, MySpaceIM, and Zephyr.
With 2.4.0 Pidgin users gain a few key features that they've been lacking for years. Among them is the ability to have offline messaging for AIM accounts. Pidgin/Gaim has had the ability to do offline messaging with Yahoo accounts for a while but AIM offline messaging support is a new thing that many users have been asking for.
Pidgin 2.4.0 also now provides support for Yahoo! Messenger 7.0+ file transfer method, so Pidgin users can now send files to their Yahoo! messenger buddies.
The 2.x branch of Pidgin is barely a year old at this point, but it seem to me that in the last few months it has finally hit its stride with regular updates for features and bug fixes.
While Pidgin is an open source project, it is lead by Google staffer Sean Egan , so at one point there was a lot of speculation that Google would be calling the shots on this project. As it turns out that apparently never really became the case and Pidgin continues to fly on its own path.