The full text of the essay I wrote for the O'Reilly Open Government book is finally online at Stop!Zona-M. In it I discuss what open file formats and other digital standards really mean for us, why they are often even more important than Free Software and why Government must lead the way when it comes to their adoption:
It happened few days back when I explained about Open source technology in a Food Service forum. I was telling about my Open source Point of Sale for Restaurants named Floreant POS ( http://freepos.us) and the way vendor of close source products reacted was very interesting. Here I am sharing the conversation between Robert Lehman, owner of a POS software company and me.
Why promote Open Source? Do you programmers not want to be paid for your work? What do you only want part-time editors making changes as their hobby? It just doesn't make sense to me. Please
explain if I've got it wrong, but that won't change my opinion.
Dear Robert, Open source is an established business model. Instead of selling
software license, open source model sells service (support,
customization, modification of reports etc). There are many successful
projects who left their source open and still making enough money to
Traditional software business rely on hiding source code and they may
get surprised how a software company can survive giving away their hard
Let me give answer your question with a layman's example. Think
-Source code is like Recipe for Cooking.
-Compiling can be compared to Cooking and
-Binary Executable are final cooked food. Now Closed source (Traditional) companies are those restaurants who hide
their recipe. They hide recipe because no other can produce same taste,
so they would make more profit and lock their guests. This model works
when cooks get sure their recipes are unique.
But we know there are already lots of Recipe books in the market and one
can cook delicious foods without special recipe. Most of the
restaurants in the world in fact runs with common recipes and people
eats there even though they could cook same thing at home. Interestingly all those generic recipe restaurants make business. How
can they survive? Reason is market is so big that one player cannot
capture the whole. Guests can find food in his area and whoever gives
better service makes better profit.
I told before that Close source works best when you have a special
formula which is hard to repeat by anybody(like Coca cola). In software highly researched mathematical program may be similar candidate, But
Restaurant business, Accounting App or ERP have almost similar business
process for many years. Literally there are nothing new and most of the
software we program reinvents the same wheel. In contrast to Coke, It
could be Orange juice where many companies can produce same orange juice
and make business. In Assembly or machine language days all software companies were locking
business like Coke companies! There was a day when writing code
required huge time and compilers were expensive. Now paradigm has
changed. There are IDE, Wizard and tons of freely available snippets,
that reduced cost of software. So its proven that hiding source code now
give little advantage. In contrast if a programmer give away the source
code in public domain he may invite our competitors to work on same
code but market will expand dramatically. Such way it benefits a big community.
Not sure if you could get some idea from that. BTW there are tons of articles in internet and live example of projects like Apache, MySQL who are big companies based on open source technology. You may be using Firefox - its open source too.
Not too long ago, I had stumbled across a post on the Ubuntu Forums in the System76 support section. But first, perhaps I had better back up a bit.
System76 is a computer hardware company located in Denver, Colorado. They are particularly unique because they offer Ubuntu Linux across their entire hardware line. All of their hardware is tested to be Linux-compatible, and there are numerous reviews from users that love their machines. To use a cliche here, It Just Works. For beginners and people that are new to the GNU/Linux world, this is the go-to for getting a machine that works out of the box with Linux. Heck, it's great for seasoned users as well!
However, there is a small problem that plagues System76 machines. For everyday Average Joes, this isn't much of an issue. But, to Free Software enthusiasts, it's a glaring problem. Their BIOS are proprietary.
Well, that doesn't sound so bad, you say. But think about it. BIOS is the system software that runs on the motherboard. It is the system firmware on most desktop and laptop computers. For years, various middleware companies such as American Megatrends have peddled their own BIOS offerings onto machines. These BIOS often rarely get updates for years on end, and actually hamper capabilities of the machine itself. In this sense, BIOS can be restrictive.
However, a project exists called Coreboot. It was started in late 1999 to provide an alternative to proprietary BIOS, using a lightweight Linux kernel (or other boot extensions) to configure a system. It is capable now of running GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, and even Windows versions all the way up to Windows7 (No word on running MacOSX, of course).
The fact of the matter is, Coreboot is extremely flexible. It is also supported on a plethora of hardware currently, and herein lies the problem: although it supports quite a range of hardware, Coreboot is not officially supported on any laptops. A few netbooks support it, such as the Lemote Yeeloong. But there aren't really any laptops that ship exclusively with this Free Software BIOS alternative. I think System76 has a great chance to step up and support Free Software by adopting Coreboot.
And this is where we come in. I have started a petition to System76 to voice our opinions about Coreboot on their machines. I would love for everyone to take a moment to sign the petition and spread word throughout the Free Software community. This is a chance to have a hardware manufacturer truly support Free Software in North America with laptops, desktops, and servers for consumers. This is our chance to prove to the world that Free Software is profitable by voting with our money.
I have started the petition here, be sure to sign it and pass it along to anyone that might be interested!
I've some servers with VMWare 2 installed on linux machines, my latest v2 was installed on a debian x64 (AMD64) host, as you can read from my previous posts I've done some mods and I'm quite happy about it, see:
HOWTO: VMWare Server 2, Disable Web Server Interface
Install VMWare Server 2 on a Debian Lenny AMD64
Access VMWare Server 2 remote virtual machine with VMWare Player
And so on...
I've used VMWare server for a while and I'm quite happy about this product and its wonderful "bare metal emulation", I only need bare metal emulation and this is the product I want. If you need to run a big business you obviously go with ESX (now vSphere) but if you'd like to run your private net without too much hassles or you're just using virtualization in a small company like mine ESX/vSphere is not so cheap.
Many of us are still using VMWare Server because is a reliable and stable solution, it was the first solution here and it's still here to stay, few thoughts recently make me angry about it, nothing strange, just the most common disappointments for a normal linux user:
- Webserver, service and WebInterface sounds cool but it's not. If you like the Keep It Simple Stupid approach (KISS) and you only want services you really need in you machine (despite of its compute power) you're probably against this new "feature" installed with VMWare Server 2.0. Web interface relies on Tomcat webserver but it's ugly, slow and impossible to use for heavy duty machines
- Virtual Interface Client (VIC) was the way to go to access your Linux VMWare Server installation, it's not so well documented and features for accessing VMServer are quite hidden but it was working fast and it's nice to have it but...
- Again next trouble: VIC is available only on Windows platforms. It could be a problem if you've a linux only environment (or plan to have it), yeah you can run it with WINE on linux but I don't wanna mess with WINE libs on my machine and as many of you I prefer a REAL linux client. VMWare promised a lot of time ago a Linux version is "planned" but nobody has already seen it here. Time passed by and we're still waiting (grr...)
- At the time if you don't like WINE libs in your linux workstation the only way is to have VIC installed on a Windows Machine (Apple "cousins" have the same problem)
- New vSphere architecture sounds promising and a challenging world but OpenSource doesn't seems to be planned there... VMWare Server is nice but no new updates and neither the expected VIC client
- Virtual Infrastructure Client (VIC) is now vSphere Client (the new VIC), guess what ? Windows only... and still worse... if you need it running these are its requirements: .NET 3.x framework needed and J# redistributable package. I Hope they're planning a totally new client even for linux, but it doesn't seem they're planning a new port from this product. They need to build a totally new one if they wanna get a rid of .NET framework and J# (this is not a portable project !)
- Again... when installing new vSphere Client and trying to connect to a VMWare Server installation... it doesn't work ! if you read their official specs (here) it not even supported, this makes me really upset. After reading a lot of forums and threads (like this one from their community forum) I'm totally disappointed by their politics (but read the good news below)
By now I still continue to keep their product running in my opensource+vmware environment but I'm really watching around and making experiments with VirtualBox / KVM / XEN / ... and I'm really planning effects of moving away from them.
What I actually need is bare metal emulation and VMWare it's still the best but I'm looking other competitors as well
NOTE: At the end of this blog finally a good news. vSphere Client is "not supported" by VMWare Server but "not compatible" is wrong, in fact I've it running (still on a Windows machine grr...) and connected to VMWare Server
with a little trick check my next blog here:
Accessing VMWare Server with vSphere (the unsupported way)
Andrea (Ben) Benini
I've always been a big fan of the PowerPC architecture, and I was really bummed out when Apple decided to go with Intel. But new POWER7 is a MONSTER! It's got 4 , 6, or 8 cores, and each core can handle 4 thread simultaneously ... Mmmmm 32 simultaneous threads per processor. Only 1.2 Billion transistors in the 8 core chip, too. Beats the pants of Intel's Tukwilla.
Now, if I only had roughly $34,000 so I could get a machine form IBM just to play with.
Here's some more info:
After spending most of my professional career taking care of Windows-biased systems (don't get me wrong, Windows has given me a good life financially and technically), but in the last part of my time before heading out, I finally get to see the introduction of mass UNIX -- in the form of Linux distros -- desktops to the once impregnable fortress of Windows.
Windows has many strengths as well a many weaknesses, but with its overwhelming popularity it was the system of choice in which to build and run a successful 20+ year consulting/training business. However, the progress of Linux distros with the likes of Ubuntu 9.10, freeBSD, openSUSE, etc into very usable desktop environments that do not require, remember these "the UNIX install parties," such hand holding, give my next few years some very "coming home" type feelings.
I have several contracts where I am going to introduce a small set of Linux-biased desktops to clients that are fed-up with the Redmond mindset of control, proprietary bent, and endless patches -- not unlike the Macintosh world. Linux can free users from both those tyrannies.
Frequently as the experience pile up, I will come back and post the more interesting stories as my clients walk with me into this new, but not new, experiences of sans-Windows.
Back later on.
Open source is a lovely thing. Getting open source software running, configured, backed up and functioning can be considerably less lovely. I hear some of you saying, "If only there was a company that could just configure the software for me so that I could use the program instead of spending my time installing it and resolving dependencies, I'd do cartwheels in the parking lot." Well, start stretching, because it's cartwheel time. Jumpbox is a company that specializes in making pre-configured application-specific open source software virtual machines that can be easily deployed in Windows, Linux, or Macs using virtualization technologies. JumpBox was founded in 2006 by Kimbro Staken and Sean Tierney. For a quick explanation on how Jumpboxes work, there is a 90 second introductory video available on their website, as well as a tour of the basic structure of each Jumpbox.
is a free, powerful, and versatile virtualization program which is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows hosts, and can virtualize many different Operating Systems. VirtualBox was originally developed by innotek, but was purchased by Sun and renamed Sun xVM VirtualBox. There are several versions of the program, but I use the free closed-source version, since it has more features than Virtualbox OSE.
is a great Linux note-taking tool. I chose it because I don’t need the multi-platform or networked aspects of Jarnal
, and appears to have more useful features than Gournal
though NoteLab looks like it could hold its own weight, depending on the intended use.
There are several paper types available, such as notebook paper or graph paper, but because this tool can also be used to annotate PDF files, you could also print out many assorted sizes and styles of graph paper here,then annotate them inside of Xournal. NoteLab lacks this feature, which looks like a deal-breaker to me. Xournal very well with my Thinkpad X41 tablet PC, and allows me to keep digital copies of notes that I previously would have put on paper. I can see this program being very useful when I do my sysadmin work on site, especially when sketching out preliminary network topologies and other notes.
Useful features in Xournal include freehand pen input, forced straight-line pen input, shape recognition, multiple layer input, text entry, highlighting, erasing, selecting and moving text, as well as different pen and paper shapes and colors.
I also like the “undo” feature, as it saves me from the typical scribbling that I do with a regular pen.
If you're interested, give it a try!
Go to zootlinux.blogspot.com for more tech news and cool stuff!
What's the difference between a novice and a professional? One word summation...training. There is a classic line that I love in the Denzel Washington movie Man on Fire when he is training Dakota Fanning's character on improving her swimming times:
"There is no such thing as tough. There is trained and untrained. Now which are you?"
It is a good statement and an excellent question. Which are you in the world of Linux? Training is defined by Webster's as:
- the act, process, or method of one that trains.
- the skill, knowledge, or experience acquired by one that trains.
- the state of being trained.
The other day I wrote about Linux certifications. In that article I gave my opinion that although a certification was not a necessity nor requirement, it was not a bad idea for someone who wanted to gain a good foundation in what Linux was all about. However, my primary point was that "Linux affords you the level of "certification" you desire to achieve just by being Linux. You essentially gain your certification by being involved with Linux and using it".
The keyword is involved. Without being involved and actively using Linux you will never gain any aptitude. You are left being untrained. I watch forums and read questions from people who's only desire is to have someone do their work for them. They are not gaining any useful skills or knowledge because they just click and configure based on someone else who spoon fed them the answer. In a sense they are stuck in "Windows" mode, meaning they just want to double click and have the machine install and be done. There is not anything wrong with that per se, but training in Linux means doing. The act of doing equates to experience. One cannot be hesitant to try things and fail in Linux. If doing leads to experience, then the experience will lead to judgment, which will make you a more effective system administrator, engineer or developer. Putting it another way, good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement. But ultimately that experience comes from you training yourself.
Gaining the experience takes time in training. You have to consistently be willing to explore the file system and do things over and over. There is a saying in the Army that was drilled into us that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. What that means is if you put the time in your training to do it right, to learn from your actions and your failures, your experience grows and makes you ultimately faster. Developers don't just learn C and write out the next latest and greatest kernel overnight. They hone and sharpen their skills by doing and gaining the experience. They train in their art of C.
Just remember, training never stops. I learn new things and techniques almost daily. My advice to those new to Linux is never be afraid to fail. It takes time and effort to train, but remember that the penguin rewards your training. There is nothing more satisfying than installing and configuring a system that is reliable, flexible and rock solid...and knowing that it was your experience and training that made it possible.
If you are serious about the Linux craft here are some great links that will help you train yourself (the links will open in a new browser, check your pop-up blocker if it does not work):
- Easiest Linux Guide You'll Ever Read / htttp://www.linux-books.us/suse_0002.php / Designed especially for those who are in an early transition from Windows to Linux. Specifically written from the SUSE distribution use.
- Linux Professional Institute LPI 101 and 102 course instruction materials / http://www.ledge.co.za/software/lpinotes / Licensed under the GNU documentation license, these are professionally developed study guides that are distribution neutral. They were developed for those wishing to sit for the LPI entry level certification and an excellent reference.
- The Cathedral and the Bazaar / http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/ / If you want to understand what open source is all about and what Linux means from the open source perspective this is a must read. There are multiple translations if English is not your mother tongue.
- Linux Device Drivers / http://lwn.net/Kernel/LDD3/ / Are you a developer and want to know everything about Linux Device Drivers and such? This is an excellent starting point.
- Loads of Linux Links / http://loll.sourceforge.net/linux/links/ / A central repository of over 5000 links that are specifically related to Linux and all the aspects of the environment (system administration, engineering, developing, security, magazines etc).
So the challenge question to you is which are you...trained or untrained? I challenge you to keep training and don't get discouraged about how quickly you might or might not pick things up. Remember...slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
Cheers - Kryptikos