Saturday Feb 18, 2006

Linux boots on Niagara

Via an OSNews thread, OSNews, Linux is up and running on the Niagara chip thanks to Dave Miller. Hat's off to Dave.

The goal isn't exactly new news, but Dave's results are.

There are some vendors spreading FUD. Check out Fact 4 in particular. HP, please update your FUD page. Thanks.

No doubt that Linux booting on Niagara isn't an ecosystem. But it is the first step.

Saturday Apr 02, 2005

Back it up

This one hits a nerve. Via Jim's blog, I read a Solaris 10 review in PC Mag. One statement stands out, and unfortunately it has nothing to do with Solaris 10.

"Sun is still in flux on its Linux strategy."

That's it. No backup to this statement. Well, they do go on to talk about the Linux Application Environment that will enable users to run Linux binaries on Solaris. But that neither supports nor defeats their claim. Assuming they have a valid claim, BACK IT UP. It just bugs me when journalists (or in this case reviewers) throw these off-topic one-liners out there. If you aren't going to back it up, or if it deviates too far from the topic at hand, LEAVE IT OUT.

For those who actually want to take the time to learn more about Sun and Linux, then check it out.

Unfortunately I have to cut this entry short. Speaking of hitting nerves, I'm off to the dentist.

Wednesday Feb 23, 2005

Is it the year of Linux ... Again

Look, it's the year of Linux ... again. Chalk up this 2005 prediction (#6 on the list) as being true. I'll admit the title is a "question", but is it really? Who are the "some" in "some believe" anyway?

How about another prediction? 2006 will be the year of Linux in some way ...

For those of you regular readers out there, you'll know I run the Linux based JDS. Perhaps 2006 is the year of Linux on the desktop. 2007? That's the year of auto(mobile)-Linux. 2008? That's the year of pacemaker-Linux. 2009? The year of nano-Linux. Where does it end?? 2010, that's where Linux becomes the Matrix :)

Thursday Dec 02, 2004

Another Alternative View

Here's another op-ed piece that can have an alternative view. Here's the quote of interest:

Sun's decision to license Microsoft protocols allows it to boast the best Windows interoperability in the business, leaving free software developers high and dry.

Isn't better interoperability a good choice for customers? Some customers may want to deploy products with reverse-engineered protocols. Some may want the products that provide "better interoperability". The market exists for both when you consider the packaging that goes around these options. Both of these options have the opportunity to increase open source content in corporations. I bet many organizations will implement \*both\* options depending on the context (much like many of my customers deploy SAMBA and Windows File servers today).

Open source on the desktop has barriers to overcome before deployment in many corporations. Sun, through the Java Desktop System as one example, is trying to address those barriers. Licensing protocols provides an opportunity for cleaner JDS integration with a Microsoft-centric organization, with a potential shorter-time-to-implementation. The licensing option that can \*increase\* the opportunity for free software developers by putting open source technology (underlying the Java Desktop System) in corporate environments.

There are server-side example as well, but I have to head off to a concall. Hope this alternative view provides value to you.

Wednesday Dec 01, 2004

Update: More like lip service to reality

I find it interesting that common opinion is that some play lip service to Linux while others are whole-hearted backers. Here is another column that brings this up. Here is the quote:

Which companies stand behind Linux today? I mean really stand behind it, and not just give it lip service? It's companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell and Oracle. We're talking the who's who of American technology vendors.

So Sun is missing (yet again) from Linux backers (and missing as a who's who of American technology vendors). By our absence (and the columnists history), it is safe to assume Sun falls under "lip service" in this column. Why? Well, that's up to the columnist to say.

Let's do some brief research a couple of these Linux backers. Seems that HP and IBM both resell Microsoft server technology (click on the operating system pulldowns). Good luck finding Microsoft server technology for sale on Sun's web site. Hold on, I'm looking for where Sun sells Microsoft operating systems .... wait .... hold on .... still looking ....

Let's see, IBM offers Microsoft Authorized Premier support. Holy cow, HP has a global service center for Microsoft and touts being a worldwide Microsoft prime integrator and has the largest Windows 2K certified workforce.

Do those links show a lack of commitment to Linux? No. But they sure as heck don't show a lack of commitment to Microsoft either. I think it is safe to say that neither IBM nor HP think Linux is the solution to all problems. Do they get charged with lip service?

Now you can hit Sun.com and blogs.sun.com to see Sun touting Solaris \*and\* Linux. Heck, I am running the Linux-based Java Desktop System. Hey, Sun's Scott McNealy and Jonathan Schwartz run the Java Desktop System on laptops and use Sun Ray's (Solaris based) at work (and Macs at home). Would anyone like to guess what Carly Fiorina and Sam Palmisano run on their desktops at home/work/mobile? Sun is not showing a lack of commitment to Linux just because we push Solaris as well. The Java Enterprise System supports Linux. So do our developer tools. So does our Sun Ray thin client technology. The investment it takes to support Linux with virtually our entire software product line is \*not\* lip service.

Sun bloggers have documented on blogs.sun.com many times our involvement in open source and Linux. I sure would like to compare the percentage of Windows desktop users at Sun to the percentage of Windows desktop users at HP and IBM. Sun has done (by far) more than HP or IBM on proving that Linux is a viable alternative on the desktop. I would like to compare the percentage of Linux desktop users at HP and IBM with the percentage of Linux desktop users at Sun. Take this comparison and run it on the server side at the two companies. I don't think it would be all that different.

Update: I must say that it is amazing how two people can look at the same situation and parse entirely different results. No topic is immune as we all have our pre-dispositions. Here is an example from the 2004 Waters Editorial Award:

"The editors of Waters are pleased to present the award to Sun for its complete portfolio of new products that Wall Street appears to have embraced over the past twelve months," said Phil Albinus, editor of Waters. "Sun's adoption of Linux has peaked the interest of financial leaders to warrant this esteemed title of 'Best Server Solution.'"

Waters doesn't seem to think Sun is playing lip service to Linux, and neither do our customers. You can read the Sun press release to hear more.

Thursday Aug 05, 2004

Streaming media and Steaming Joe

Have you noticed the hoops you have to jump through to listen to radio webcasts on Linux? I get my cup of [highly modified] steaming joe at Starbucks before the daily grind (at like ... 5:30-6:30 in the morning ...). This is the time I like to read news, read blogs and do some email. Because I am a news junkie, I also like to listen to the radio over the web.

The stations I listen to (KFI, KRLA and KABC) stream only using Windows Streaming Media. They make the incorrect assumption that the world revolves around Windows (yet those same talk show hosts still call viruses "Computer Viruses" instead of "Windows Viruses"). It works through xine, but it is not a solution for the masses. All you Linux geeks, send an email to the radio stations you listen to and "educate them" on the value of open systems (and Helix).

Thank you for your support.

Monday Aug 02, 2004

Groklaw on Schwartz on SuSE/Redhat/IBM

Check out Groklaw and the entry regarding Jonathan's IBM/Novell/SuSE blog. The comments are not surprising.

So the question is, if Linux is free, then why does Red Hat have a market cap of 3.21B? "Linux is free" depends on the context. For a CIO of a major corporation who wants accountability, Linux is not free.

For geeks like me, Linux is free.

Thursday Jul 15, 2004

Is Linux a tool for greed?

I read this article with interest. I'll over-simplify the argument and summarize it as "America is greedy, Linux is not result of greed". I'll simply agree that America is greedy (hey, that's capitalism). Of course, every other country is also greedy. Greed - and other countries - have been around long before America ...

My question is around this statement Mr. Koennig makes: "I prefer to take hold of Linux and stand once and for all for something, some tangible thing, that is overtly good and beneficial and not based on greed. Linux is no longer simply an operating system, it has become the instrument of light to uncover a deeply rooted greed that drives much in America. Let us hope that Linux will prevail."

Disclaimer: I am asking questions here, not making a statement. I am posting this blog entry from a Linux desktop. I am not against Linux. I have been running Linux for 3 of the past 5 years on my laptop (with two years of Solaris X86).

Initially, Linux was not based on greed. Is this true ... today? Aren't corporations both inside and outside of the US trying to make money off of Linux? Aren't many of the important contributors now corporations? Corporations are not doing this for the goodness of humanity. They are doing it to make money using various business models. Where would Linux be today without greedy corporations? Has Linux become a tool of greed both inside and outside America? Is Linux really an "instrument of light?" In practice, can Linux and greed be separated?

Saturday Jul 10, 2004

Need for Mozilla/IE compatibility

I have customers who need a non-Microsoft browser with IE compatibility. Why? Because they have non-Microsoft platforms (HP-UX/Solaris/Linux) and some ISV's, in their infinite wisdom, write strictly to IE. The pain my customers face is measurable in cold, hard cash.

One solution is for ISV's to not write to one browser. I don't want to tell ISV's what to do, but I do know that they are costing my customers a boatload of money with architectural hacks like Windows Terminal Server with rdesktop or Citrix. That's more money for hardware, more money to those in Redmond, architectural complexity and more people to design and manage the beast. Plus, its a hack, hack, hack. ISVs - listen to your customers. If not just for cost reasons, how about not putting our joint customers at risk with IE security vulnerabilities by supporting alternate browsers.

Next, my customers can't rely on ISV's to do this and they still have to support existing deployments. Another way of attacking this problem is by enabling IE compatability in an open source browser, such as Mozilla/Firefox. For one reason or another, this hasn't happened. If it is because of limited resources, understood. Please place IE compatibility near the top of the priority list, right behind security patches and bug fixes. If the reason is more philosophical such as "write to established standards", well, I request those working on Mozilla to not take this stance. Too many customers are forced to deploy my described hack simply because Mozilla doesn't address IE compatibility. Not having IE compatibility is limiting OSS adoption in general within my customer base. If this compatibility exists somewhere or is already in the works, please comment on it so I can inform my customers.

Finally, I read with concern Tim Bray's blog on Apple Safari Extensions. Tim, thanks for bringing this to light. Apple, please don't cause my customers yet more pain. Please adhere to standards and work desired extensions through established standards processes.

Tuesday Jun 22, 2004

Linux and Innovation

What is the role of Linux in Innovation? I have been trying to think of ways in which Linux, in and of itself, is innovative and off the top of my head I can't think of any. In most ways it is a re-implementation or repository (via technology donation) of existing innovation.

First, a disclaimer. I use Linux on my laptop every day. This is not an attempt to knock Linux but an honest attempt to grok where Linux is doing something different. I use Linux in a fairly mainstream way. Vanilla desktop. Vanilla server. I don't really sit out at the edge of OS innovation. By "Linux", I am really saying "Linux kernel" not "Linux distribution". And in some way I think this is a partial answer to my own question.

Linux in the mainstream is being used primarily as a cheap OS on Intel-compatable hardware. Its a money saving tool. The nice thing about Linux is that it is a catalyst for innovation, which I think is its primary role in innovation. It has lowered the barrier to entry on top of which other innovations occur. PHP. perl and mod_\*. python, Project Looking Glass and the list goes on. Perhaps the ability for anyone to compile the kernel and remove what they don't want is in some ways an innovation.

But I am really interested in where the Linux kernel is doing something different. It must be happening. If you know of something that is innovative in the Linux kernel space, please comment on it. In particular, I am interested in what has the potential to become mainstream and how I can position its use within my customer base.

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John Clingan

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