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How Do You Define Open Source? #LinuxCon

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 30, 2012

Richard Fontana LinuxConSAN DIEGO. What is open source?

It's not as easy a question as you might think. For me, I used to (perhaps naively) believe that any license approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) is open source. Those licenses are all supposed to conform to the Open Source Definition.

Speaking at the LinuxCon conference, Red Hat lawyer Richard Fontana led an awesome session that really illuminated by view of the whole discussion.

"There is often just a deference to authority," Fontana said. "People just say OSI has a definition and that's that."

Apparently that's enough. Fontana has some criticisms of the OSI, an organization that is now undergoing a period of transition. Fontana like the Free Software Foundation (FSF) approach to understanding and labelling open software.

"Institutions should be providing rationale for how they reach a decision on what is and isn't open," Fontana said.

Perhaps even more interesting, to me is that there is also a movement to expand the definition of what is open source beyond just the license.

Fontana suggests that perhaps it's time to also consider adding open development criteria to the definition of open source. That's the idea that a project isn't truly open unless it actually accept patches that are then including back into the project.

That idea might not work for really small projects, but for projects of reasonable scale it will.

The point that Fontana makes is a really good one. Simply relying on licensing terms and the fact that source code is available isn't necessarily enough to ensure that there is software freedom.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Linux 4.0 Coming in 2015? #LinuxCon

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 29, 2012

Linus Torvalds LinuxCon 2012From the 'I asked, Linus answered' files:

SAN DIEGO. Linus Torvalds took stage tonight at the LinuxCon conference in a panel discussion about the state of Linux. Lucky for me they took questions from the audience via Twitter - though apparently i was the only one that asked questions over Twitter...

I asked about the naming issue - many of us were almost caught of guard by how the whole Linux 3.0 name came about, with Linus pretty much saying at the time that the numbers in the 2.6.x series had simply just gotten too large. The last 2.6 kernel was the 2.6.39 kernel.

So I wondered - when will he make the call to move to Linux 4.0?

"When we hit the 30's," Torvalds said. (ie. when the 3.30 kernel debuts.)

Greg Kroah-Hartman who joined Torvalds onstage said that it doesn't matter, and that it's just a number.

"We are not going to go to the mid-30's," Torvalds said. "It's just mentally much easier for people to remember the small number. We'll do 4.0 in three years maybe when the sub numbers have grown in the 20's and our feeble brains can't handle it."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Using Open Source Arduino to Detect Sleep Apneia #LinuxCon

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 29, 2012

Marc Merlin Google at LinuxConFrom the 'What Can't Arduino Do?' files:

SAN DIEGO. Sleep apnea is a serious condition. So what's a hacker with sleep apnea going to do?

That was the topic of one of more eccentric session at the LinuxCon conference today.  Google developer Marc Merlin suffers from Sleep Apnea and wasn't satisfied with some of the commercial solutions that he was forced to endure.

"Like every good hacker I have an arduino board," Merlin said. "I meant to use it for a rocket,  but i guess i'm just not cool enough."

Over the course of his near hour long talk Merlin detailed the ins and outs of how he used different approaches to detect his sleep condition. Along the way, open source tools and tech played the primary role.

Merlin has now posted his presentation slides up at

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Open Source, GPL, Linux and Apple #Linuxcon

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 29, 2012

Jim Zemlin LinuxCon KeynoteFrom the 'There is GPL code for that app' files:

SAN DIEGO. Apple is one of the most closed companies on Earth. Yet according to Jim Zemlin, the Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, Apple embraces open source too.

Speaking in the keynote address at the LinuxCon CloudOpen event, Zemline said that the days of just creating software on your own are over, there is a real need to collaborate. He said that the most successful technology companies in the world are now masters of using and contributing to open source.

When it comes to successful tech companies, no one is more successful than Apple.

"There is lots of open source software in every device Apple creates," Zemlin said. "They get how to leverage open source."

To prove his point, Zemlin said all any iPhone user need to do is to go into General > about > legal notices on an iPhone. Among the items listed are multiple open source GPL components. The legal notices also identify Ted T'so, a well known Linux kernel developers for his code as well.

Going a step further, Zemlin reminded that audience that Apple is now the steward of the CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) that is on every Linux (and Apple) system. Apple purchased the copyrights for CUPS and employs its core committers.

"My point being is that the world has really moved full scale in this direction," Zemlin said. "Even companies we think of as closed source embrace open source to compete."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

LinuxCon and the Promise of CloudOpen

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 28, 2012

LinuxConFrom the 'Open Source Conference Preview' files:

SAN DIEGO. The fourth annual LinuxCon conference is getting underway this week here in Sunny San Diego. Over the last four years, LinuxCon USA has emerged as one of the preeminent Linux events on Earth, bringing together the best and brightest in a weeklong Linux love-in.

LinuxCon filled the gap that was left behind after the collapse of LinuxWorld (remember that show?) as a vastly superior, technology focused show. The 2012 event by all indications will be another epic bonanza for Linux aficionados. While there have always been co-located conferences at LinuxCon, this year the Linux Foundation is co-locating its newest conference CloudOpen with LinuxCon.

No surprise there really. The cloud – like the core internet hosting space before it – is set to be dominated by Linux. Just as Apache, since the very beginning of the web era (and for most of that on Linux too) has dominated web serving, Linux and open source tech are set to dominate the new cloud era.

Among the big name speakers that I'm really looking forward to hearing from at CloudOpen/LinuxCon 2012 is Jonathan Bryce. Bryce is one of the founders of OpenStack, an effort that has broad support from every major Linux vendor.

One the core Linux front, the highlight for many people (myself included) is undoubtedly likely to be none other than Linus Torvalds. Torvalds will be joined on stage as part of a keynote panel discussion with fellow kernel developers Greg Kroah-Hartman, Ted Ts'o and James Bottomley.

The other high-level big Linux sessions that I'm looking forward too include a keynote from Red Hat's Tim Burke on Enterprise Linux success factors. I'd suspect that Red Hat has at least a billion ($) factors that it can talk about.

Red Hat's rival Oracle will also be talking about Linux success in a keynoted titled, Linux Tales from the Trenches of an Ultra Demanding Cloud Data Center. That session will be led by Oracle's top Linux guy Wim Coekaerts, SVP, Linux and Virtualization Engineering, Oracle who will be joined by Mark Sunday, Senior VP and CIO of Oracle.

While all those talks I've listed above are likely to be interesting, in my opinion, there is no single topic in the Linux world today that is more contentious than that of Secure Boot. A key figure in the Secure Boot discussion is Red Hat engineer Matt Garret and he'll be leading a session titled, 'Linux in a UEFI Secure Boot World'. It's a session that is likely to be a hotbed of conversation.

Facebook and Twitter

Last but not least, I'm personally really looking forward to two specific talks about open source in action. Facebook engineer Amir Michael is set to deliver a keynote on the Open Compute Project and making hardware more open. Twitter Open Source Manager Chris Aniszczyk is set to talk about the open source technology behind a tweet.

So yeaah, a busy week ahead with no shortage of Linux loving open source cloud goodness.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Linux Foundation Ranks Grow as Twitter Joins the Community

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 24, 2012

tuxFrom the 'Open Source Tweets' files:

The Linux Foundation is growing, again. The Foundation is set to announced that Twitter, Inktank and Servergy willl be joining the Linux organization. The formal announcement is set for next Tuesday, at the LinuxCon event.

The inclusion of Twitter is a particularly interesting one. Twitter is no stranger to open source technologies, it is the basis for Twitter's infrastructure after all. Twitter has also not been shy about open sourcing some of its tech – most notably the Bootstrapframework (who doesn't love Bootstrap?)

Twitter's core infrastructure (the stuff that keeps the fail whales at bay..) is powered by tens of thousands of Linux servers. So yeah, it is in Twitter's best interest to have a seat a the Linux Foundation table.

"Linux and its ability to be heavily tweaked is fundamental to our technology infrastructure,” said Chris Aniszczyk, Manager of Open Source, Twitter. "By joining The Linux Foundation we can support an organization that is important to us and collaborate with a community that is advancing Linux as fast as we are improving Twitter."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Fedora 18 Linux Set To Package Spherical Cow Load of Features

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 13, 2012

Fedora 18 Spherical CowFrom the 'Beefy Miracle's Desert' files:

The clock is starting to tick down on the Fedora Linux release with the feature freeze now in place. As such, now is as good a time as any to take a look at some of the new features that are likely to land when Fedora 18 goes live at the end of the year.

No, I'm not going to talk about Secure Boot (but it's in there).

Initial User Experience

I wrote about the Initial User Experiencea couple months back, and it's still part of the Fedora 18 features list. With Initial User Experience, the plan is to provide new users with smoother first impression and a guided tour of features.


This is a neat one. According to Fedora's feature wiki page:

"RFC 5716 introduces the Federated File System (FedFS, for short). FedFS is an extensible standardized mechanism by which system administrators construct a coherent namespace across multiple file servers using file system referrals."

I'd like to think of this feature as symbolic links on steroids.


Sure SUSE has had OwnCloud in its repos for over a year now but… hey it's great to see this (open source Dropbox kinda/sort clone) application land in Fedora now too.


Who likes GNOME Shell? (not me and apparently I'm not alone). MATE, the fork of GNOME 2, with that traditional navigation (places people!) is back!!

Virt Live Snapshots

"Live snapshots allow a user to take a snapshot of a virtual machine while the guest is running, thus preserving the state and data of a VM at a specific point in time," Fedora's feature wiki page states.

This is a big deal. Live snapshots (once this is fully matured) will provide the ability for real time resiliency and more effective always-on system delivery.

Yes, there are more features that will be in Fedora 18, I'm also interested in seeing how the Samba 4 implementation lines up as well as the usual lineup of SELinux/security type optimizations. Fedora 18 will also be important for its inclusion of the OpenStack Folsom release, which will eventually be the base for Red Hat Enterprise OpenStack in 2013.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Nokia Open Source Retreat Continues as Qt Sold Off

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 09, 2012

Qt commercialFrom the 'Good News for Qt' files:

Nokia, the one time king of the mobile phone market, really seems to have no clue when it comes to open source. These are the same geniuses that killed MeeGo (and all its iterations) abandoning Linux in favor of Windows.

Now they are also giving up on Qt. Again.

Back in 2011, Nokia first began to divest itself of its Qt assets. Qt is an open source cross platform framework that Nokia acquired with the acquisition of Trolltech in 2008 for $150 million. In 2011, Nokia sold off the Qt commercial licensingand services business to professional services vendor Digia.

Now a year later, and Nokia is selling the rest of the Qt business

"We are pleased that we've been able to work with Digia to secure continued development of Qt by the current core team," said Sebastian Nyström, head of Nokia Strategy. "Digia's plans to acquire Qt mean that it can continue as a successful open source project and also offer continuing employment for many people in the community."

It's a deal that makes a lot of sense. I have no idea why Nokia just didn't sell everything to Digia last year. After all, Nokia has hitched its future (for better or for worse) to Windows Phone. An open source toolkit like Qt (while useful for Windows Phone), also has broader applicability for other platforms.

Qt however has never been just about mobile and it is more widely used today on the desktop (as part of KDE), than anywhere else.

"Now is a good time for everyone to revisit their perception of Qt," Tommi Laitinen, SVP, International Products at Digia said. "Digia's targeted R&D investments will bring back focus on Qt’s desktop and embedded platform support, while widening the support for mobile operating systems."


Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Is Linux Nemesis SCO *FINALLY* Dead Now?

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 08, 2012

scoFrom the 'SCO is Still Around!?' files:

Two years ago, I wrote that SCO was (mostly) dead. Back in 2010, Novell won the critical ruling against SCO (once famously referred to as the 'Smoking Crack Organization' by Linus Torvalds), asserting the Novell and not SCO own the trademarks to Unix.

At the time Groklaw declared: Stewart Rules: Novell Wins! CASE CLOSED!

Fast forward two years, SCO is still kinda/sorta around, but not for much longer. Groklaw (love PJ!) has reported that SCO has now filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is essentially a liquidation bankruptcy as opposed to Chapter 11 which is a reorganization effort.

In April of 2011, SCO sold off its Unix business to UniXs, so there really has been much left to reorganize in over a year. That said, SCO still want to pursue its legal actions against IBM, until its last dying breath.

On April 11, 2011, the Debtors sold and conveyed to UnXis, Inc. the UNIX® system software product and related services business. There are no other assets in the Debtors' estates other than certain unfair competition and tortious interference claims asserted by the Debtors' estates against International Business Machines Corporation ("IBM") in an action ("District Court Action") currently pending in the District Court for the District of Utah (the "District Court").

With SCO not owning the copyrights to Unix, there really is little basis on which they could make a claim, even if the claim itself was in any way valid. That has never stopped SCO before and even though this company has never won a legal decision against any Linux associated vendor, they still persist.

I personally suspect that Chapter 7 isn't the end of SCO yet either. I'd bet that as the zombie shell that is SCO will persist in this state for another few years yet. Zombies after all aren't easy to kill since they're dead already.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Linux Foundation Heads to Korea, Thanks to Samsung

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 07, 2012


From the 'Platinum Microsoft Licensee' Files:

The Linux Foundation is bringing Linus Torvalds to South Korea. Torvalds will be a key speaker at the inaugural Korea Linux Forum which is set to occur October 11 to 12 in Seoul, South Korea.

Linux is certainly no stranger to Asia, though the Linux Foundation seems to have had more events (and success) in Japan in recent years. The move to have an event in Korea is being driven by consumer electronics giant Samsung.

"Korea is a hotbed of new Linux development, especially in the mobile and embedded areas,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director, The Linux Foundation, in a statement. "The Korea Linux Forum will help bridge the amazing work being done in the country with the global Linux community, resulting in technical advancements for Linux and that impact the entire ecosystem. We are pleased to work with our member Samsung on this event and other activities to hopefully tap into the developer talent pool in Korea"

Samsung is now a platinum member of the Linux Foundation and is actively engaged in Linux efforts.

That said, I think it's also important to remember that Samsung was among the first vendors to make a patent deal with Microsoft over alleged open source/Android/GPL patent infringement.

I hope one (or more) of the sessions at the Korean Forum emphasizes the strong legal resources that the Linux Foundation can bring into play and that neither vendors nor developers need to license patents in order to user Linux successfully.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Mars Curiosity. Where is Linux?

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 07, 2012

mars curiosity

From the 'Real Time Linux' files:

With all the excitement about the Sunday AM (ET) landing of the NASA Curiosity rover on Mars, I've felt that something has been missing.

I've seen multiple press releases from vendors all highlighting how their tech is helping NASA.

One of the releases I got was from Intel's Wind River division. Wind River has a robust embedded Linux operating system offering.

However, that's not what they sold to NASA for Curiosity.

Instead Curiosity is powered by Wind River's proprietary VxWorks commercial real time OS.

Now I understand that real time determinism is something that a spacecraft needs, but I would have thought that's also something that Linux now can provide. Apparently that wasn't the view of either Wind River or NASA, two groups that both have strong Linux experience.

To be sure, there are no doubt teeming numbers of Linux servers sitting behind the scenes helping to crunch all the Hadoop loving Big Data that Curiosity will send from the surface of Mars. But for whatever reason, Linux wasn't the choice for the primary embedded systems that NASA has on Mars today.

So if you happen to work at Wind River or know someone who does (that will talk, or hey comment here), please let me know why Linux wasn't the right choice for Curiosity.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Fedora Linux Project Manager Robyn Bergeron on Open Source Leadership

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 06, 2012

Robyn Bergeron Fedora LinuxFrom the 'Open Source Leaders' files:

Robyn Bergeron became the Fedora Project Leader earlier this year. In her tenure so far, the Beefy Miracle (aka Fedora 17) has been released. She's also had to contend with Secure Boot and is now busy getting everything lined up for Fedora 18.

I recently got the chance to chat with Bergeron, to talk about what she's doing. She told me that there are a lot of good things about the job of Fedora Project Leader (FPL) One of those good things is the fact that people aren't afraid to raise the flag if something is missing.

"It's a great community with people that are incredibly passionate," Bergeron said.

She added that even with the 'trauma' of the whole secure boot controversy, she sees that people really care. To be sure she faces some challenges as the task of FPL is not an easy one.

She follows in the footsteps of some great leaders too. From my perspective though, she has the tools and the community saavy to make it all work. But don't just take my word for it - take hers. Watch the video below to hear Bergeron explain in her own words what it's all about.


Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Red Hat CEO Likes CentOS Linux. Oracle Linux, Not So Much

By Sean Michael Kerner   |    August 01, 2012

Jim Whitehurst, CEO Red HatFrom the 'CentOS vs. Oracle Linux' files:

Red Hat makes its money from selling support subscriptions for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Mostly the same bits are available entirely for free by way of the community led CentOS project that clones RHEL.

I recently chatted with Red Hat CEO about CentOS and the long story short is he's good with CentOS.

Having CentOS out there is a good thing. It broadens our community. There are people that don't need the things that we have in subscription and it's great that there is an offering build off the same code base.

Whitehurst added that Red Hat works with CentOS and have made changes to the way code is released to make sure it doesn't impede the CentOS flow.

That said, Whitehurst is still interested in selling RHEL to those CentOS users that might need it.

Now on the other side of the coin is Oracle. Oracle claims that it kinda/sorta is doing the same thing, taking the same bits and then making them available. But in Whitehurst's view, Oracle is not the same league as CentOS or RHEL for that matter.

Whitehurst said that he doesn't see a lot of competitive bids with Oracle Linux. Furthermore most the RHEL customers that once left for Oracle have now returned since Oracle Linux isn't exactly the same.

It's really an interesting dichotomy.

Check out the full video from my interview with Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst:

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.