Editor's Note from the Road: On a Global SCALE
Feb 12, 2006, 02:30 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)
Re-Imagining Linux Platforms to Meet the Needs of Cloud Service Providers
By Brian Proffitt
I'll tell you one thing about the Southern California Linux
Expo: there is certainly no shortage of enthusiasm amongst the
attendees. And thank goodness for that, because otherwise I might
have passed out sometime after getting here.
Flying from Indiana to LA in one hop is convenient, but it plays
heck with your body's schedule. Though I left at 9 local time this
morning, and got here at 11 local time, by the time I actually got
to lunch it was 3:30 back in the Hoosier State, and I had not eaten
much for breakfast.
During Aaron Seigo's talk this morning on the progress of the
KDE 4 desktop, specifically the Plasma prject he is working with, I
nearly fainted from lack of food. But the crowd enthusiasm and
Aaron's patented KDE Dance (which involved a bet, beer, and Jono
Bacon. That's all I know.) kept me alert while Aaron regaled the
session with very cool looking and sounding information on the near
future of the KDE interface.
To sum it up in a very small nutshell, this interface is going
to be the first step towards a new paradigm (my word, not his) for
interfaces. In Aaron's mind's eye, desktops will be "workspaces,"
with a separate workspace for each task or project the user may be
working on. Workflows will be heuristically learned, so the
workspace will eventually anticipate your next task. Widgets will
be networked, and information shared transparently over any network
with any user or usergroup.
That is just a taste of what's coming. Changes in KDE 4 will
start to reflect this new direction, but don't worry, it won't be
all at once. Aaron informed us that this new interface will be
incrementally built on throught the KDE 4.x products, up to KDE
After the session, I grabbed a much-needed lunch with Aaron and
got his insights on a lot of current Linux events. The conversation
bounced around a bit and his take on the globalization of open
source really struck a chord with me.
We all tend to think as localization being the process of
translating software into the local language. But often, he
explained, it's more than that. Having just gotten back from a
conference with 1,500 university students on Mexico, Aaron said
that a big challange for open source is and will be trying to
integrate the very notion of open source into a given culture.
Mexico, he elaborated, is culturally resistant to open source,
because they have come to expect that unless it comes out of a
proprietary vendor, the product is no good. Free means cheap,
something they want no part of. Aaron said he was able to put it
into more local terms. Imagine, he told them, if the rich cultural
history of the Mayan Civilization became suddenly inaccessible.
Ancient buildings would become invisible, intangible. Records would
This imaginary tale equates to losing the ability to access data
as technology moves forward with proprietary instead of open source
formats, and he was able to reach them more with this example--one
that tied into their heritage. The argument for open formats in the
US, conversely, would be equated with loss of control--something
that brings a lot more anxiety to a North American heart.
Different cultures require different ways of introducing and
nuturing open source. That is why Aaron advocates the local
advocacy wherever he goes. Only the people on the ground can know
what the customer needs are and how best to respond to those
More on the show tomorrow. Off to the evening festivities.