What Is An API? The Clue Is In The Name…

At the end of my testimony in the recent Oracle v Google trial in San Francisco, Judge Alsup asked me to explain what an API is. My answer aimed to simplify the answer for a general listener while remaining recognizable to most programmers. Here’s what I said. Continue reading

Azure Loves Linux; What About Microsoft?

The news that Red Hat and Microsoft have reached an agreement about hosting Linux is very welcome. I am delighted for Red Hat here, and see this as a huge sign of the continuing power and growth of open source. It shows that the cloud market is one where and embrace of Linux is table stakes. It also shows that the enterprise market is one where Red Hat is a huge and powerful supplier.

All the same, let’s be clear that all the “Microsoft Loves Linux” hype I saw at SUSECon in Amsterdam yesterday and at other events earlier this year is just not true. Microsoft Azure loves Linux, there is no doubt; it is a basic requirement for them to become relevant on a cloud market dominated by AWS and Linux. They have been out in force at every commercially-oriented open source I have attended this year and have a full-scale charm offensive in place.

But the rest of the company still does not. They still seem to covertly spread open-source-related FUD about LibreOffice here in Europe. They haven’t foresworn making embedded Linux vendors pay for patent licenses of dubious necessity. The Azure business unit is certainly embracing the ecosystem the same as many before them have done so in their steps towards open source. But the Windows and Office business units show no signs of “loving” Linux and only modest signs of co-existing with open source.

It’s hard to change a company as large and profitable as Microsoft quickly. But a significant and binding gesture of goodwill would go a long way to convincing those of us with the scars of Microsoft’s decades of verbal and actual abuse of open source that they mean business.  It’s no secret what the necessary gesture is.

“We both know we have very different positions on software patents,” said Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president for products and technologies. “We weren’t expecting each other to compromise.”
(WSJ)

Red Hat, despite asserting they don’t believe Microsoft has any patents that read on their products, included a standstill agreement in the deal. Sources tell me it is carefully phrased to comply with the GPL. If Red Hat felt they had to do that with their new partner, there’s no doubt everyone else remains at risk.

If Microsoft truly want to signal the end of hostilities, step one is to sign the Mozilla Open Software Patent License Agreement or join OIN. Until one of those happens, I remain sceptical of Microsoft’s love for Linux.

[Please see my InfoWorld article for more]

Input To UK Government

My input to the UK Government consultation on document formats:

I believe it is imperative to have a single document format standard used as the benchmark for corresponding with the UK Government, rather than a named software package or a choice of formats. That standard must be capable of complete implementation by any party using only the specification without needing a relationship (such as a license) with a specific vendor or community. Among the existing full implementations there must be one which is both open source and available to citizens without charge (and depending only on other software such as an OS that is without charge). To take any other approach is to tacitly promote the business of a preferred vendor and to restrict access to government to an elite able to obtain the preferred vendor’s offerings.

I believe the proposal above is a reasonable, balanced and effective expression of these principles and I wholeheartedly endorse it.

MariaDB Progress

I just posted a State Of The Sea Lion report on the MariaDB blog detailing where we have reached with implementing a community-centric approach for the MariaDB Foundation.

Taking MariaDB Foundation Forward

MariaDB FoundationI’m pleased to tell you that I have a new role that I’ve already started within the scope of Meshed Insights. It’s a new and exciting departure for me.

I’ve remained in touch with Monty Widenius ever since we were both at Sun together. At the start of the year, he asked if I would consider helping him move the MariaDB Foundation forward as an independent steward of the MariaDB database project. I agreed, and recently accepted his request to join the board of directors for the new Foundation, along with several others. To allow Monty to focus on the technical aspects of MariaDB, I also agreed  to the new Board’s request to take on a part-time role as the interim chief executive of the Foundation, at least until a member-elected Board is seated.

We just published a news release about this, which you’ll also find at MariaDB.org. I’m very excited by the opportunity to help this important open source software community devise representative governance. I expect every individual who has made substantial contributions to MariaDB to have a role in the governance process and in the future Foundation too; more of that soon.

But most importantly, I want to hear from every company that values MariaDB and wants to see it have a stable, secure, independent future. We need you as a sponsor – either engaged in governance or simply making financial (or other) contributions to the community. Please contact me now – MariaDB needs you!

Red Hat Picks Up Dropped Java 6

Red Hat put out a press release yesterday that didn’t instantly make sense to me. After a chat with their GM of Middleware, I realised actually they had all done us a favour picking up care of OpenJDK 6 that Oracle had dropped. More on InfoWorld.

Driving Open Source

Here’s my interview with this month’s Oracle Java Magazine about the forces driving open source and the need for open source skills.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlOOEFDnRH8]
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