Monday Apr 14, 2008

Ending Software Patents - Talking with Ben Klemens

You've got to respect any individual willing to kick off a presentation with a impression of Kermit the frog.  And not just an impression but a rendition of Kermit singing the rainbow connection.  Well Ben Klemens, tasked with leading the Free Software Foundation's End Software Patents campaign, is just such an individual (the point?  Kermit lied.  There aren't so many songs about rainbows).

I was able to grab Ben after his talk at the Free Software Foundation's membership meeting last month and talk about ending software patents.  

My interview with Ben (10:27)  Listen (Mp3)   Listen (ogg)

"Is that a patent troll I see up there?" 

Who is Ben?

Some of the topics we tackle:

  • Patent Trolls
  • The protection that Copyright provides
  • How software patents are all the Gipper's fault
  • The Supreme Court has been extremely clear in their disapproval of software patents
  • The question is do software patents promote the progress of science -  the answer is no


Extra Credit Reading - Where Sun Stands on Software Patents:

Pau for now....

Friday Apr 11, 2008

The Linux Foundation Summit: Of Maddogs and Englishmen (and Sharks)

Earlier this week I attended the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, serendipitously held here Austin.  It was a fantastic opportunity to meet a lot of the people in the community whom I hadn't met before as well as to catch up with old friends.

Maddog (R) helping Executive Director Jim "Led" Zemlin to Flourish 

Great Speakers
(and I'm not talking Bose, which really aren't great speakers anyway)

There was an impressive line up of panels and speakers the first day of the summit ranging from Al Gillen of IDC to the Kernel Hackers panel to Brian Stevens, CTO of Red Hat (here's a good write up of the panel and Al's presentation).  My personal favorite, and I may be biased, was Marten Mickos' presentation.  I thought he came across as sincere and relaxed, yet authoritative.  Marten re-affirmed MySQL's commitment to GNU/Linux and talked about the "New Sun" characterized by, among other things, a "bold and humble new management."

One thing that struck me, particularly during the Q&A session of the kernel panel, was the preponderance of Englishmen.  It seemed for a while there,  one question after another was being asked by someone sounding like Hugh Grant (or at least closer to M. Grant than Ricky Gervais). 

A Super Location 

The event was held at UT's Super Computing Center about 10 minutes from my office and the exact same place where, six weeks ago I attended the dedication of Ranger: the Sun Constellation Linux Cluster.  In fact during the Summit they had tours of Ranger, aka"the world's most powerful supercomputer for open science research." 

If you want to get a feel of what its like to walk-through this uber computer check out this video that  Whurley shot during the tour.

Qua bottle lounge, where Tuesday's fete was held: Below the plexiglass dance floor swam sharks and manta rays.

Open Source, Open Bar

Of  course the biggest value in a summit like this comes in the after hours get togethers where you really get to meet people.  The Summit was no exception.  While the breakfast spread at the conference was put to shame by the breakfast spread that the Free Software Foundation (the Free Software Foundation!) offered at its member meeting, the food and drink Tuesday night was first class. 

I can't remember the last time I've been to a truly open bar.  I reflexively asked for a beer at the bar assuming that beverages would be limited to beer and two colors of wine.  I was quite surprised then a little while later when the hostess asked the person next to me what they wanted to drink he asked for a vodka tonic.  From there on it was margaritas for me!

James Bottomley (kernel SCSI god) picks the second winner in the raffle. I was the first winner and will be getting the new HP mini note running SUSE, Yippee!

Old Apple buddies, Mark Murphy (now of Canonical and who has the pleasure of dealing with me on a regular basis) and Zaheda Bhorat (of Google and tireless ODF champion) 

Pau for now.... 

Wednesday Apr 09, 2008

Sam Ramji becomes Microsoft's head of Open Source and Linux

I just read the news in Matt Asay's posting from earlier today

Sam Ramji just got a promotion: Sam will now be running Microsoft's worldwide open-source and Linux team (roughly 120 people and counting).

Sam had been the director of Microsoft's open-source software lab. In this new role, he'll continue to oversee the lab but also take on a more strategic role within the company (and, by extension, within the industry).

Chatting with Sam

I met Sam last summer at OSCON and was very impressed with what a sharp, friendly and down-to-earth guy he was. 

I was particularly impressed when I asked him if he would be up for an on-the-spot recorded interview and he said he'd be happy to do it right after a meeting he had.  No hesitation, no NDA or contract for me to sign. 

Here is the interview (8:27)  Listen

I hope to be able to grab him again at OSCON this year.

Pau for now.... 

Dalibor joining Sun (Yippee!)

I just saw the link in Simon's blog saying that it was now official, Dalibor Topic will be joining Sun as our Java F/OSS Ambassador.  

Nis may by Nice, but I'm Hamburg bound!

Dalibor has been a tireless champion for Free Java and has been instrumental in bringing several Java technology-oriented free software projects together such as GNU Classpath, Kaffe and GNU Compiler for Java.   Over the years, Dalibor has gone from Sun critic to supporter and, as of last JavaOne, he has been a member of the OpenJDK interim governance board

In the role of Java F/OSS Ambassador, Dalibor will taking over where the magnificent M. Tom Marble left off.

Listen to What the Man Said 

If you want to get a sense for Dalibor and his thinking, check out this podcast I did with him last Fall at Sun's internal FOSS Summit.

My Interview with Dalibor (10:41)  Listen (Mp3)    Listen (ogg)

Welcome Dalibor and I look forward to working with you!

Pau for now...

Wednesday Apr 02, 2008

The Heron Cometh (with some Sunshine on its shoulder)

We are now about three and half weeks from the debut of Hardy Heron aka Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Long Term Support).  This will be the second LTS for Ubuntu, the first being 6.06 (aka Dapper Drake),  and it will help to give Ubuntu greater credibility in the enterprise. 

Sun and Canonical worked together to certify Sun systems for the original LTS and have done so for every release from then on.  In the case of Hardy look for a few new systems.

On the software side when we last saw Sun's Java stack it was safely within the Gutsy (Ubuntu 7.10) multiverse.  Tune in on the 24th of April to see what progress our Java bits have made within the distro. :)

Hardy Heron -- What a long strange trip its been. 

Pau for now... 

Friday Mar 28, 2008

OpenSolaris Governing Board -- Results in

After a dramatic pause, the results are in for the OpenSolaris Governing Board (OGB) for 2008-2009.  It was a really good group of candidates and I enjoyed getting the opportunity to interview the majority of them.

Here is the new board along with the interviews I conducted (so you can make sure that they stick to their campaign promises :) 


John Beck (7:26)  Listen (Mp3)    Listen (ogg)

Alan Coopersmith (7:41)  Listen (Mp3)    Listen (ogg) 

Glynn Foster (7:36)  Listen (Mp3)    Listen (ogg)

Jim Grisanzio (8:30)  Listen (Mp3)    Listen (ogg)

Stepehen Lau    Read\*

Simon Phipps (8:02)  Listen (Mp3)    Listen (ogg)

John Plocher (7:44)  Listen (Mp3)    Listen (ogg)

\* Stephen was on vacation so he emailed his responses in.


The new board will take office next week on April 1 (an auspicious day)  Best of luck to all in an exciting new year in the young history of OpenSolaris!

Pau for now...

Thursday Mar 27, 2008

Hollywood and Free Software -- Talking to Henri Poole

At the Free Software Foundation's members meeting that I recently attended, I was able to grab FSF board member Henri Poole.  I caught Henri right after he gave his talk, "Hollywood and Free Software."  I don't know about you but "Free Software" and "Hollywood" are not words that I often see in the same sentence.

My interview with Henri (6:31)  Listen (Mp3)    Listen (ogg)


Who is Henri?

  • FSF board member since 2002
  • Co-founder of CivicActions which, among other things, is working on Peter Gabriel's Witness project, creating the WITNESS video hub.
  • A Berkeleyite who began hacking code as teenager in Oklahoma
  • The former head of Mandrake Soft.
  • The former Director of Technology for Dennis Kucinich's US Presidential campaign.

Some of the topics we tackle:

  • The writers strike and how it provided for a receptive audience
  • Meeting up with 15 members of the writers guild at the house of the writer of Schindler's List
  • The birth of "Virtual Artists": entertainment and software writers coming together to enlighten the world through a new form of story telling.
  • Matching the technology with the strategic direction
  • Looking for management, funding and what the next few months holds.

Pau for now... 

Wednesday Mar 26, 2008

OGB Elections and Dangling Electronic Chads

I was hoping today to be able to announce the victors in the Open Solaris Governing Board election. 

It looks like, however that 33 ballots were spoiled due to a bug with the voting software. Those whose ballots have been lost have been contacted and they now have a couple of extra days to vote.  Not as sexy as dangling, pregnant or hanging chads but there you have it.

The new timeline 

The resubmission of lost ballets closes tomorrow and Friday the results will go public.

Pau for now... 


I look after Sun's relationships with the various GNU/Linux communities as well as our relationship with the FSF. Last year, my family and I emigrated from Silicon Valley to Austin, TX.


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