☞ Open (Source) Data

  • It’s early days, but it seems liberating the OpenOffice.org community from the contributor agreement and excessive vetting has helped more than sixty (yes, 60) people decide to try their hand at co-development on LibreOffice. This rare experiment seems to show that an open-by-rule community really does encourage participation. The big lesson for Project Harmony is that there are very real – and significant – disadvantages to demanding a contributor agreement as a precondition of participation.
  • While I have no problem at all with Canonical innovating, I fear that part of their motivation in developing in isolation from the GNOME community is becuase otherwise they would be unable to maintain ownership of the resulting code – presumably this is one of the drivers for them initiating Project Harmony. So I’m interested in Dave’s analysis that suggests they may have failed to learn the lessons of history from other before them who have tried the same thing.
  • I’m delighted and honoured to have been invited to deliver a keynote for European PostgreSQL developers at PGDay Europe 2010 in Stuttgart on December 6th. I’d love to see you there.

☞ Reputation and Regulation

  • Really excellent advice here on how to handle customer engagement. As one of the comments says this is a typical profile – both of attitude and skill – for a community manager, and that’s a job that is undervalued by some and in hot demand by others. I’ve used B&H off and on for many years, both in their quirky New York store and online, and every time has been a good thing. 

    On a related note, if you are a community manager looking for a job, send me an e-mail with your background explaining why – I have a small list of people hunting for the perfect person to hire.

  • This illustrates the wider truth that it’s impossible to regulate what’s illegal. The big weakness of dictatorial platform control – setting aside it’s abhorrent disregard of customer freedoms – is that it encourages an ecosystem to evolve beyond the influence of the platform owner. While Apple can deal with malware that sneaks into the AppStore (and it inevitably will), a philosophy that opposes uncontrolled software encourages dependence on software that has to stay underground to survive, with the consequent risk of it being exploited for evil as well as for innovation. 

    We saw it in the Prohibition, we can see it in the ridiculous “war on drugs” and we’ll see it anywhere people assume “technical measures” can comprehensively succeed. Apple may tar it with a black brush but ultimately it’s a demon they invoked themselves.

☞ More Change

  • Florian Effenburger steps down as OpenOffice.org marketing project lead. He has always been the model of leadership in that role, patient, tolerant and firm when necessary, and I am sure he will be missed. His replacement Peter Junge is from Red Flag 2000, a Sun/Oracle partner in China developing the Red Office distribution of OpenOffice.org, and used to work in Sun’s Hamburg team on StarOffice.
  • Just when you thought the abuse of customers and prospective customers of media products couldn’t get worse, this proposal for debt collectors to be deployed to collect money with menaces before any legal judgement is obtained comes along. Where are our legislators? Are they ignorant of the abuse, misinformed or corrupt? I can’t see a fourth explanation.

☞ Exits and Endings

[An expanded version of this posting can be found on ComputerWorldUK]

  • Another of the key Solaris guys quits. A key figure in the development the ZFS storage appliance as well as of DTrace in Solaris kernel engineering, Mike was also the guy that shut down OpenSolaris for Oracle. I’m not sure there’s anyone left from the team of superstars whose new inventions made Solaris 10 so great.
  • “I believe that the JCP is no longer a credible specification and standards body, and there is no remaining useful role for an independent advocate for the academic and research community on the EC.”

  • James Gosling calls Steve Jobs on a serious untruth he’s spreading about the Java port. Truth is we always preferred platform providers to manage the port of Java as it led to a much better developer and user experience all round to have all the twiddly bits (especially the UI) done by the platform owner.
  • “LibreOffice is, after all, and until proven otherwise, a downstream version of OpenOffice.org, and as such deserves inclusion into the OpenOffice.org community. As for the fork itself, and because we’re still a downstream version of OpenOffice.org, forks become forks only when one of the boys refuse to play ball with the others; and the Oracle team of OpenOffice.org just did that.”

    Charles leaves the OO.o Community Council and leadership of the national language team. As someone once said, Rehost And Carry On.


  • I completely rely on TripIt to gather all the diverse information about my travel schedules, and the Pro add-on makes them monitor the flights automatically and keep track of all the points on the frequent travel programmes. Even if they weren’t offering me a miniscule incentive to write about it (which they are – entry in a draw), I would recommend anyone who travels once a month or more to splash out on Pro for TripIt. This link gets you a discount until the start of November.

☞ Shake-out


  • I was actually surprised to find Amazon didn’t have a sandpit for AWS, so this new offering really doesn’t surprise me. They still have no easy-start developer environment that I have found, that’s a serious lack and an invitation to try Node.js
  • This has to be a candidate for an IgNobel Prize.

☞ Who Will Watch The Watchmen?

  • “Every email, phone call and website visit is to be recorded and stored after the Coalition Government revived controversial Big Brother snooping plans.”

    Despite promises from both the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems during the election to end the surveillance state, the crazy, abusive idea of making ISPs keep records of every UK internet connection and phone call for at least a year so that they can be used for investigations have been revived. Their earlier promises are still there on the web, and we still remember them, yet they have absolutely no shame. I am disgusted at these hypocrites.

  • “Once again, then, it is clear that the only fair and practical solution for open standards is RF: Restriction-Free licensing.”

  • Given how well-funded the pernicious hydra FSFE (and the rest of us) are fighting actually is, I remain amazed that meaningful opposition is even possible. Huge kudos to FSFE (of which I am a proud member) for keeping this battle going against all odds, even despite Quislings.

☝ License Compliance: Not An Open Source Problem

Logo Open Source Initiative

Image via Wikipedia

The New York Times featured the activities of the GPL enforcement community recently. While there’s a part of me that’s pleased there are people doing this, I’m concerned that their actions – and those elsewhere, such as the Linux Foundation‘s compliance programme – are the focus of public understanding about open source software. Of the many attributes of software freedom that could move to front-of-mind, it strikes me that the minimal license compliance burdens for open source software are actually a comparative strength and having them presented as a feature applies a “frame” that serves only the detractors of software freedom.

License compliance is a major and costly issue for proprietary software, but the license involved in that case is an End User License Agreement (EULA), not a source license delivering extensive liberties. When we compare like-for-like, we discover open source software has no such issues. End-users do not need to have a license management server, do not need to hold audits, do not need to fear BSA raids. No wonder proprietary vendors want to divert our attention! Open source is so much easier!

Read on over at ComputerWorldUK

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