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April 2008 Archives

Did you ever get the nagging feeling you've missed something important as you go through your daily routine?

I'm having that feeling right now, and it may not bode well for Linux.

By Mark Hinkle

Bill Gates steps down as the Chairman of Microsoft on July 1st to transition to full time philanthropic efforts with the Gates Foundation. However, I wonder how effective Bill will be other than writing checks. You see Bill's never played well with others.

By Mark Hinkle

Yesterday was Earth Day (visit the open source Drupal-powered website for details from the Earth Day Network). In September 1969, at a conference in Seattle, Washington, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment. Senator Nelson first proposed the nationwide environmental protest to thrust the environment onto the national agenda. This would be the first Earth Day. Now the event is celebrated twice a year at different times depending on what hemisphere you are on.

By Mark Hinkle

I have been trying to digest two unrelated stories from last week. The first was the report by the Standish Group on the $60 Billion dollars open source is purported to be costing the proprietary software industry. The second was Steve Reubel's, "The Web 2.0 World is Skunk Drunk on Its Own Kool-Aid." As I looked introspectively into these stories I wondered how relevant they were. I came to a realization that while the one of the most commonly espoused virtues of open source is more eyeballs generating better code that perhaps one of the least mentioned strengths is their marketing ability. Bear with me as try to explain why.

I watched with my usual fascination as the news cycle built to a shrill crescendo last week when both Novell and Red Hat each made a point of announcing that they were not planning to put a lot of effort into developing a desktop for the consumer model.

One media outlet after another propagated the story theme: "Red Hat drops plans for consumer desktop development" Of course by the second or third wave this story, like the game of Telephone, has morphed into: "Red Hat Abandons Desktop! Aieee!" Which industry pundits immediately jumped on and used as "proof" for their long-waning arguments: "See? Even Red Hat sez that Linux on the desktop is no work-y. Told ya so!"

Curiously, very little attention was paid to Ron Hovespian's comments on Novell's similar plans, made before Red Hat's. If I were Novell, I would take this as a bad sign. Not only did the mainstream media not pick up on Novell's news, but even most of the hard-line Linux blogosphere wrote them off with nary so much as a "meh" And if you can't get those folks mad, you must be doing something wrong! :)

A friend of mine sent me this link to an entry on Avi Kivity's blog, where the KVM maintainer and Linux kernel developer states (somewhat equivocally) that "paravirtualization is dead."

It's a brief entry, fairly matter of fact. Too bad I could hardly understand a word of it. Neither could my friend. It was one of those things you know is significant, if only you could grasp the meaning.

A couple of e-mails later to settle on a time, and I was on the phone to Qumranet, where Kivity works, in Israel so I could find out what the heck he was talking about.

Strengths and Weaknesses

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Yesterday, I fired up the search engines and noted a lot of stories in the media about Windows users freaking out about the planned June 30 end-of-life for Windows XP. They popped up in my net because quite a few of the stories had a passing comparison of the Windows users to the Linux and Mac communities.

From a Linux advocacy standpoint, it's a strong sense of Schadenfreude that prevails as I watch a usually nascent Windows community struggle to awaken itself fast enough to try to get something they want from Redmond. Good luck with that, guys.

By Mark Hinkle

Last year open source analyst Michael Coté of Redmonk coined the term Little Four to describe four up-and-coming open source management vendors and as a foil to the Big Four of systems management.

In the open source space, the 4 names that come up each time--usually from people I'm talking with even before I say anything--are: Zenoss, Hyperic, GroundWorks, and openQRM.

Software Wars

The 451 Group's Raven Zachary recently used this slide at an address in Redmond during Microsoft Open Source Day.

Debunking the Analysts

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I am a fan of the open source analysts RedMonk and 451 Group. I think Alex Fletcher from Entiva has good open source insights and Jeremy Owyang from Forrester share great information on his blog about social media. However, when it comes to IT buying decisions I have never been much of a fan of the big analyst firms.

In the quest to get as much content to the mobile end user as is humanly possible, much of the content delivery to IP-enabled devices and cell phones is being handled by the large telecommunications providers themselves.

So, AT&T customers will see their content from AT&T T-Mobile customers get their stuff from T-Mobile; and so on. This is not just in the US, as other nation's providers--such as MTN in South Africa and China Mobile in China--are the primary content deliverers to consumers using their hardware and networks.

It's not about the telcomm providers being selfish or greedy, necessarily. A big reason why it's just the big boys playing in this space is because it's hard for smaller companies to get over the entry threshold to deliver apps to umpteen million customers. It's expensive and the R&D can be enormous, since the app developer has to figure out how to deliver their app effectively to all of the various devices any given network might have.

I'm happy to announce that BytesFree.org will be represented at its first event, Lug Radio Live, which will be held at the Metreon in San Francisco on April 12th and 13th. Several of us have been working on the challenge of gettings things going organizationally, and appearing at an honest-to-goodness event looks to be a tangibly rewarding experience.

I am often dismayed by the misappropriation of the term open source. Companies apply the term to products that are free though not open source. It's a classic marketing maneuver to leverage a brand that already has broad recognition.

A clothing company sent me a release not too many months ago about their new open source clothing line. After close inspection they meant design your own outfit from their catalog of designs that they owned. It wasn't open source but I recall a number of open source trade publications picking up the story. Good marketing stunt but not accurate.

Yes, Office Open XML is now (almost) a standard. Open source users are upset, which seems a natural course of events. Heck, I am too.

But I also wonder if the preliminary approval of OOXML as an ISO standard might not be the biggest gift to Linux and Open Software... ever.