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Linux kernel valued at over a Billion Euros: No Surprise

By Sean Kerner   |    February 25, 2010


From the 'Figuring out the Value of Freedom' files:

Yet another study has come out trying to put a financial measure on the worth of the LInux kernel. The latest study from University of Oviedo in Spain has estimated the total value of the LInux 2.6.30 kernel to be 1,025,553,430 Euros, that's nearly $1.4 billion U.S. dollars at current exchange rates.

If that number sounds familiar, it's because the figure of $1.4 billion as a value for Linux has been reported before. Back in 2008, I reported on a study that place the value of a Linux kernel at -- yeah you guessed it $1.4 billion. That was a Linux Foundation sponsored study that used a metric that calculates lines of code, effort and developer costs per

It built on an a 2002 report that put the value of the Linux kernel at $1.2 billion.

The new Spanish study makes no mention (that I could find) of the 2008 Linux Foundation report (get the full report here). That said, it's not surprising to me that the figure the Spaniards ended up with is nearly identical to the 2008 numbers from the Linux Foundation.

What likely has changed over the years though is the value of a LInux distribution, which back in 2008 was pegged at $10.8 billion. Simply put more 'stuff' is in a distribution today than there was two years ago, provided more practical utility to users.

Also the value of the broader Linux ecosystem has likely grown as well. Back in 2007, IDC has forecast that the value of the Linux ecosystem would hit $40 billion by 2010.

So what does it all mean?

Well Linux is worth a lot, it will continue to be worth a lot and grow in value as the code continues to grow. Ohh and there will also be an analyst willing to give us a precise forecast as to what the value of that grow might be in dollars...or Euros.

Apache HTTP Server Turns 15

By Sean Kerner   |    February 23, 2010

From the 'Greatest Open Source Tech' files:

Happy 15th Birthday Apache! But wait, didn't we just celebrate Apache's 10th Birthday?

Not quite, today's anniversary marks the birth of the Apache HTTP Server (often commonly referred to as just Apache), which pre-dates the Apache Software Foundation by five years. It is the success of the HTTP Server that led to the ASF.

Apache HTTP is one of the most important open source projects of all time, having dominated the web serving landscape since 1994 and now powering approximately 112 million sites. The birth of the web as we know it today, it's early adoption and it's current success is in part thanks to the success of Apache HTTP.

It was on February 23, 1994, 15 years ago today that the Apache 'new-httpd' mailing list was started a 'fork' of the NCSA httpd web server.  The first Apache release (officially numbered Apache (0.2) was released nearly a month later on March 18th, 1994.

Apache HTTP servers have served countless numbers of webpages since then. It's all open source and has been for the last fifteen years.

Open Source's Big Model Train Win - Interesting, but...

By Sean Kerner   |    February 22, 2010

From the 'Jacobsen v.
' files:

It's a big win for open source -- or is it? I'm talking about the Jacobsen v.
dispute about open source code violation.  Bruce Perens has written a definitive story over on Datamation about the specifics of the case (so I won't repeat that here).

The long story short is a U.S. court has upheld the validity of an Open Source developer's rights. The sad part of the story is that it took five years for the U.S. justice system to come to that conclusion (whoever said that Justice is swift?)

While in many ways this is a precedent setting case - as a court test of an open source license - it's far from the first time that lawyers have argued about open source issues - or settled open source based disputes.

You need to look now further than the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) that has successfully settled multiple GPL  open source violations.

True the SFLC has settled all their matters (to date) out-of-court. But they were settled and I doubt that any self-respecting defence attorney would have settled if they thought that could defeat the SFLC and the GPL license they defend in a court of law.

Open Source In Government: What's the Problem?

By Sean Kerner   |    February 18, 2010


From the 'Uncle Sam Needs Penguins' files:

It seem to me like nearly every other week there is some kind of pronouncement or analysis of how to get more open source into the government.

It's a topic that's full of opinions and many have argued that the in the U.S. the new administration has fostered more openness than ever before.

It's not enough though is it. As anyone that has every worked in sales knows, technology is only one part (and not always the biggest part) of the equation. I recently spoke with Michael Tiemann VP of Open Source Affairs at Red Hat and he gave me the most succinct answer to the problem that I've ever heard.

"The biggest challenge for open source adoption is the government procurement process," Tiemann told me.

What does MeeGo mean for Mobile Linux?

By Sean Kerner   |    February 17, 2010

From the "Maemo, to Moblin to LiPS' files:

There have been multiple efforts from multiple vendor groups over the last 5 years to develop a successful mobile Linux operating system.

Now we've got another one with MeeGo that my colleague Andy Patrizio reported on yesterday.

The pairing of Nokia's Maemo with Intel's Moblin was a bit surprising to me initially, but in many ways it does make sense. To be blunt, Nokia's Maemo Linux platform was going nowhere fast.

After years of hearing about it, I'm only aware of one phone the N900 that runs Maemo -and that's from Nokia a company with hundreds of devices and handsets. Moblin on the other hand is the benchmark standard that Linux distros have been aiming for when it comes to netbooks - Intel Atom powered netbooks to be precise.

I see only one reason why Moblin will benefit from Nokia's participation and that's Qt. Nokia own Qt Software (formerly known as Trolltech) and it provides what some developers view as a superior open source toolkit for user interface development.

Mozilla Previews Firefox 3.7 with Alpha 1

By Sean Kerner   |    February 11, 2010

From the 'Ditch This' files:

Mozilla is out today with Firefox 3.7 Alpha 1 as a Developer Preview.

This is the first new dev milestone outside of the Firefox 3.6 release a few weeks back at the end of January.

The thumbnail (image left) is a screenshot of 3.7 Alpha 1 running on a test box in my environment. Yes, I'm writing this post using 3.7 Alpha 1 too.

Officially speaking this is not Firefox (yet). Mozilla has labeled this release as Developer preview of Gecko 1.9.3 --but the about screen clearly identifies it as 3.7a1.

Nomenclature issues aside, Firefox 3.7 alpha 1 includes a bunch of new items.

"We made various architectural changes to improve Web page
performance," Mozilla release notes state.

Yes they sure did, without pulling any specific metrics, this browser is visibly faster than Firefox 3.6

Google Goes With Gentoo Portage for ChromeOS Build

By Sean Kerner   |    February 10, 2010

From the 'Gentoo Linux' files:

One of the most noteworthy features of Gentoo Linux is its Portage software management tool.

Unlike other distros like those from Red Hat, Novell and Ubuntu Gentoo has a rolling release cycle as users continually build their systems, thanks in part to Portage. While none of the big Linux distros have moved to Portage, starting soon Google's ChromeOS will become a Portage user.

"As we've been growing and working with more partners, the  need to
support board specific builds and improve our tools has become more
urgent," Google developer Ryan Cairns wrote in a mailing list posting. "In order to get there more quickly  we've been
investigating several different build tools. We found that the
Portage build tools suit our needs well and we will be transitioning 100 percent within the next week."

I personally see this as a big win for Gentoo and its approach to Linux.

LPI Partners with Novell on Linux Certs

By Sean Kerner   |    February 09, 2010

From the 'Buy One Get One Free' files:

As the economy is headed (hopefully) for recovery, I'd expect that the market for Linux jobs will also pick up momentum. While experience is always the key, some employers (you know who you are) like certifications.

Now thanks to a new partnership between Novell Inc.
and The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) getting those certifications might be a bit easier.

The new partnership means that people that have obtained their LPIC-1 ( Linux Professional Institute Certification) now also will be qualified for the Novell CLA (Certified Linux Administrator) certification without
the need to take an extra Novell exam.

That's good news in my book.

Google Turns on IPv6 for YouTube. Does It Matter?

By Sean Kerner   |    February 08, 2010

From the 'Coming IPv4 Apocalypse' files:

I've written my fair share of stories about how IPv4 address space is nearly exhausted and why IPv6 is necessary. At this point there is less than two years worth of IPv4 address space left.

Yet despite that looming IPv4 Armageddon, many (if not most) of the major sites that everday users enjoy have not been available over a native IPv6 connection. Late Friday, Google changed that a bit by opening up YouTube for IPv6.

While I personally think it's great that YouTube is now available for native IPv6 connections, it raises more questions than it answers.

For one, why now? Google has had search on IPv6 for nearly two years, why did it take until now to put up YouTube on IPv6?  Does that mean that IPv6 users to date weren't worthy of Google's YouTube goodness?

Canonical Ubuntu Linux Names Matt Asay as New COO

By Sean Kerner   |    February 05, 2010

From the 'Congrats!' files:

There are few people that follow the Linux and open source market that have not heard of Matt Asay.  I first met Asay at an Open Source event in Toronto nearly six years ago when he was working for Novell. He then moved on to work for Alfresco and now he's the new COO of Ubuntu Linux vendor Canonical.

Asay is going to fill the open spot left by outgoing COO Jane Silber who is now becoming the CEO replacing founder Mark Shuttleworth.

Aside from his 'day' job, many of us follow Asay on Twitter and even more go to the Open Source Business Conference which he founded. To say he's a leader and open source evangelist would be an understatement in the extreme.

With Asay in the COO spot, Canonical now has an influential Linux luminary to help drive their operational - and likely marketing efforts as well.

I'm not surprised to see Asay move to Canonical, I've seen plenty of his thoughtful posts on CNET (where he has a popular blog) about Canonical and its founder Shuttleworth.

Will this change the competitive landscape for Linux?

Not really - this is just another 'feather in the cap' for Ubuntu. Red Hat and Novell don't need to run for the hills and in fact having an outspoken community advocate like Asay in a top Linux exec role could help the whole industry. A rising tide lifts all boats right?

Jonathan Schwartz Tweets His Way Out of Sun/Oracle

By Sean Kerner   |    February 04, 2010

From the 'Interesting Ways to Use Twitter' files:

Jonathan Schwartz  the one-time leader of the now extinct Sun Microsystems was a trailblazer with his blog in the early days. And on his way out of Sun, it wasn't his blog that blazed his trail - it was Twitter.

In a late night message (or early this AM ET) Schwartz Tweeted his way out of a job.

"Today's my last
day at Sun. I'll miss it. Seems only fitting to end on a #haiku. Financial crisis/Stalled too many
customers/CEO no more
," Schwartz wrote.

If anyone needs proof of the efficacy of Twitter as a messaging medium that has surpassed blogging (in some ways at least) - there it is.

Short, succinct and 140 character or less, a man that led a multi-national, multi-billion dollar company exits stage left.

No one should be surprised that he's not moving on to Oracle which now owns Sun. Oracle is a different culture and one in which Schwartz who has been - rightly or wrongly - maligned as being partially responsible for Sun's decline, wasn't going to be a fit.

As to where he ends up now - I suspect that we haven't heard the last of him. I also suspect that finding out what he does next will just be a simple matter of following him - on Twitter of course.

Apache 1.3 Hits End of Life at 42 (Don't Panic!)

By Sean Kerner   |    February 03, 2010

From the 'Hitchhiker's Guide to Webservers' files:

As of today the Apache 1.3 HTTP Server is at its official End of Life with its 1.3.42 release, eight years after its successor Apache 2 debuted.

That's along time for a 'legacy' tech isn't it? Well yeah, but Apache 1.3 isn't just any legacy tech, it's the tech that at one point was the most widely deployed server version on Earth and was also likely the mostly widely deployed and popular open source project of its time.

The Apache 1.3.42 release provides a few bug fixes and one security fix for a mod_proxy integer overflow security issue.

"This release is intended as the final release of version 1.3 of the Apache HTTP Server, which has reached end of life status," Apache wrote in its release announcement. "There will be no more full releases of Apache HTTP Server 1.3. However, critical security updates may be made available."

Aha! A lifeline! You see great open source technology never actually dies - it becomes more dependent on a dwindling community of people willing to contribute to its ongoing maintenance.

Firefox Mobile Is Out But Only For Maemo

By Sean Kerner   |    February 01, 2010


From the 'Where's Fennec?' Files:

Developing a browser for mobile devices is no easy task, just ask the good people at Mozilla. Late last week, Mozilla released Firefox Mobile 1.0, but don't run to your Apple, Android or Blackberry AppStore just yet it is only available for the Nokia N900 and its Linux-based Maemo platform.

Firefox Mobile began it's life as a project called Fennec in 2008. Fennec itself was born out of the ashes of a previous failed Mozilla mobile effort called Minimo.

What's different this time around is one key item as far as I'm concerned - Weave.

Mozilla Weave which just hit its own 1.0 release last week is part of Firefox Mobile 1.0 enabling users to sync their mobile and desktop browsing - that's cool.

Unfortunately though the Maemo is not a massively popular platform like Blackberry, Apple iPhone or Nokia's Symbian.

Firefox developers have been at work on a Windows Mobile port and there is likely an Android release coming soon as well.

What Firefox Mobile represents is a choice that smartphone users have never had before.

The challenges facing Firefox developers still remain immense as WebKit based browsers like Safari and Chrome (and a new Blackberry browser in the wings) dominate the landscape today. The 1.0 release for Maemo represent the first key step in facing that challenge.

Google Chrome 5 Debuts For Devs

By Sean Kerner   |    February 01, 2010

From the 'Fastest Browser to version 10 Wins!' files:

What up with Google's numbering scheme for Chrome?

The browser is just over a year old and Chrome version 4 was just release last month as a stable product. Instead have a 4.5 version, Chrome is now pushing ahead with version 5 which became available to developers late Friday.

Well some developers at least.

Officially the new Chrome dev-channel release is numbered Chrome 5.0.307.1 and it was first made available to Windows and Mac users (no Linux release in tandem this time).

As to what's new in Chrome 5 that merits this new number, that's not an easy question to answer. Google's release notes are very sparse on the release and even though I'm running it myself now on a Windows test box (while waiting for my Linux version), there are few user-visible changes.

As always there are bug fixes for stability including a key one for the Mac version for a browser crash when deleting cookies.

The big key item that Chrome 5 does have is the beginning of a new content privacy UI.

No it's not something that in my opinion, any other modern browser would say warrants a new number for a browser, but hey I don't walk the halls of the Googleplex so perhaps there is a good reason. Maybe Google is trying to release Chrome 9 before Microsoft releases IE 9? At this rate it'll be no contest.