mfioretti: foss*

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  1. At Apache there’s a metric called the Pony Factor, which Nalley watches when evaluating the health of projects. Basically, the factor identifies the smallest number of people writing 50% of a project’s code over a two year period; the bigger the number, the more vibrant the project. However, even some relatively large projects show figures that are downright scary. For instance, at GIT one person has written over half the code over the last two years. At Perl: Three people wrote at least half the code over the same two year period.

    David Nalley SELF

    David Nalley at this year’s SouthEast LinuxFest.
    “There’s a lot of Perl still running,” Nalley points out, “so three people maintaining the code is quite disturbing.”

    Indeed it is. In today’s online world, fraught with security issues, I’d hate to be running a website on a Perl based platform knowing that.

    The problem, as Nalley sees it, might not be dissimilar to what we see happening with our roads and bridges. New roads and bridges are being built all the time because the public loves new roads and it helps politicians get elected. Not so much with maintaining those roads and bridges after they’re built. Hence, we see tragedies such as the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse that took thirteen lives.
    Voting 0
  2. why does NTP's support hinge so much on the shaky finances of one 59-year-old developer?

    In April, one of the open source code movement's first and biggest success stories, the Network Time Protocol, will reach a decision point. At 30 years old, will NTP continue as the preeminent time synchronization system for Macs, Windows, and Linux computers and most servers on networks?

    Stenn's shaky personal finances illustrate one very real risk to the future of the Internet. A number of widely used foundations of the Internet -- such as OpenSSL, the Domain Name System, and NTP -- are based on open source code. Open source means no one owns the software, anyone can use it, and it's maintained through a collaborative process of people submitting changes to a central governing group. Some open source projects, such as the Android mobile OS, have a rich uncle like Google that pays people who maintain the code as a side job. Or, the project is trendy enough that working on it helps to spur consulting work. But a project like NTP, which is buried deep in the infrastructure, doesn't have a clear-cut financial backer. That leaves support up to people like Stenn.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-03-19)
    Voting 0
  3. On Jan 21, 2008, Marie Smith Jones died. Her death was not just a loss of one human being, she was the last speaker of the Eyak language.

    Eyak was spoken in southern, central Alaska. We permanently lost one color from the mosaic of our limited linguistic diversity. With a language, not only a language dies, but with it a part of a community's history, intellectual and cultural diversity, and cultural identity.

    In India, the situation is not different. I searched the Language Atlas of UNESCO and found out that 197 Indian languages are endangered.

    The seminar was a success. The press of Bihar covered it. Attendeees wanted to make Angika an available language on operating systems. And, which community of technical folks came forward to help this dying language? Of course FOSS! The first thing to do was to ensure that Angika is available on The GNU C Library, or glibc. So, the first challenge was to create a locale for Angika (anp_IN). I filed a bug: New Language Locale : Angika (anp). With the help of community, and an Angika linguist, I created the locale. The bug was successfully fixed and resolved within a week.

    This is the power of FOSS. There are 6000 languages in the world, and my hope is that we could have 6000 locales in glibc to relfect that. I believe if our community works together, this dream could be realized.
    Voting 0
  4. There is unfortunately no license to straddle the business-friendly vs. copyleft divide. As a result, projects that need a revenue stream to sustain them but opt for a business-friendly license to develop a community face significant difficulties. This was the case with OpenSSL. The team chose an Apache/BSD-style license. This successfully built community but, it turns out, communities simply do not pay for their tools. Even well-heeled users, such as Cisco and Google, don't pay. In the OSS community, this is viewed as no accident, but a matter of policy.

    For example, I recently attended Black Duck's Open Source Think Tank, where OSS cognoscenti gather once a year to discuss the business of open source. Among the many discussions was one regarding Google's steadfast refusal to pay for OSS software it uses. Several participants reiterated their experience in this regard, all of which were consistent. While the search giant open sources some of its tools and garners considerable marketing value from sending summer interns to high-visibility projects, the company won't do the one thing projects most need: support them monetarily. It's policy.

    It seems that the projects caught in the community vs. revenue bind could find alternate source of funding: paid support, consulting, etc. If you look at the OpenSSL blog post I linked to earlier, though, you'll see the project did all these things and still garnered only insignificant revenue. The service/support model, which appears to be so widespread, is in fact a meager revenue stream. (To wit, VCs long ago stopped funding start-ups based on this model, although the occasional exception occurs.)

    Unless there is some seismic shift due to Heartbleed, the problem is going to get worse. There is now a distinct strain in the OSS market that advocates loudly for non-viral licenses. The growing view is, amazingly, that the viral licenses are somehow less in the spirit of open source ("not 100% open source"). This is a rather imaginative perspective, as copyleft licenses (a much better term than "viral") were purposely designed to increase the amount of free, open-source software.

    My concern is that if this view becomes widespread and copyleft licenses are heavily disfavored, the fundamental nature of open source will change. Small teams of innovators, à la OpenSSL, will no longer be able to create value and be sustained by skill and innovation. And so, one of the most important feeder streams to the open-source ecosystem will disappear — a victim of corporate users' unreasonable refusal to help pay to support projects from which they derive substantial revenue.
    Voting 0
  5. This blog post describes the installation and configuration of a prototype of a secure, full-featured, Android telecommunications device with full Tor support, individual application firewalling, true cell network baseband isolation, and optional ZRTP encrypted voice and video support. ZRTP does run over UDP which is not yet possible to send over Tor, but we are able to send SIP account login and call setup over Tor independently. The SIP client we recommend also supports dialing normal telephone numbers, but that is also UDP+ZRTP, and the normal telephone network side of the connection is obviously not encrypted.

    Aside from a handful of binary blobs to manage the device firmware and graphics acceleration, the entire system can be assembled (and recompiled) using only FOSS components. However, as an added bonus, we will describe how to handle the Google Play store as well, to mitigate the two infamous Google Play Backdoors.
    Tags: , , , , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-04-04)
    Voting 0
  6. What helps set the pcDuino line apart is that these little developer boards also support the Arduino ecosystem which means you can add Arduino shields to extend the capabilities of the little device and use Arduino programming tools.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-04-02)
    Voting 0
  7. XP's impending end of life means virtualizing Windows apps on open source platforms is about to become much more difficult.

    running Windows inside VirtualBox puts about as much strain on a host operating system as opening another Web browser.

    Come April 8, however, when Windows XP reaches its end of life, that no longer will be the case. Unless Linux users subscribe to a third party for security updates that may or may not actually work, there will be no way of running Windows inside a virtual environment without tying up many more resources than humble Windows XP demands—unless, of course, they want to take their chances on an unpatched XP system, but I wouldn't subject even my 12-year-old copy of Age of Kings to that.

    Does this mean I'll be sad to see Windows XP descend down the blue tunnel into the Afterlife? Not quite. If the nicest thing I can say about an operating system is "it virtualizes well," that's not saying much. But Windows XP's demise does mean my fellow Linux cohorts and I will have to try that much harder to survive in a Windows-oriented world.
    Voting 0
  8. Companies get involved in collaborative software development to advance business objectives and to be part of industry innovation. Ninety-one percent of business managers and executives surveyed ruled collaborative software development somewhat to very important to their business. And nearly 80 percent say collaborative development practices have been seen as more strategic to their organization over the past three years. Nearly half of business managers surveyed said they prioritize collaborative development because it allows them to innovate and/or help transform their industry.
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    Investments in collaborative software development are on the rise. Among business managers and executives, 44 percent said they would increase their investments in collaborative software development in the next six months; 42 percent said they would sustain their current investment, and no one reported they would decrease their investment.

    Sixty-three percent of software developers surveyed said they spend more time now on collaborative software development, compared with five years ago.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-03-27)
    Voting 0
  9. What is the potential for Peppermint to help 3rd world countries?

    Remington: In one major way, not just for third world countries only, is keeping older machines out of the landfill and put back in service. Peppermint is very light, stable, and a great starting point for those who want to get started with Linux and not feel freaked out. The other major way is affordability as Peppermint will always have a free, community supported version, to explore with, learn and build upon.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-03-13)
    Voting 0
  10. Is it up to the desktop/distro maintainer to correct this or do the KDE folks do it? This is one of the major problems facing desktop Linux. Sure we’ve made some amazing strides in usability and stability, but none of that makes a bit of difference if your project is broken within the core of the machine.

    And there’s no way in hell this problem isn’t known by the people who have the ability to make it right. I’ve always accepted it and moved along, but a new user won’t be as generous. Personally, as a new user I wouldn’t use a system with that kind of sloppiness. To me, it speaks to the entire system being sloppy.

    Let me get to the heart of the matter. We’ve become complacent. Aside from the kernel, people who produce and maintain any part of Linux are not accountable to anyone. There’s no product quality control. There’s no one being paid for doing this job. There’s no one who is accountable for things like this. There’s no monetary loss or job loss attached to these mistakes or omissions. Heads will not roll for something like this.
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