Updates from November, 2006 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Roberto Galoppini 5:00 pm on November 30, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Open Format: permanent interoperability matters! 

    Few weeks ago I got invited to a dinner by Rufo Guerreschi, along with Richard Stallman and Robin Good. Than Robin filmed an interview to Richard.
    Some days later we all started to discuss by email about the video format to be used to deliver such recordings. Richard asked Robin to publish those video clips using formats supported by free software applications, and Ogg Theora was the format of choice.

    But Ogg Theora is an open format and is supported by an application released under a BSD-style license. So far there is no format’s specification other than the source code of the program. No wonder the format has not been approved by any standardization body yet.

    As we know Open standards may impose “reasonable and non-discriminatory” royalty fees and/or other licensing terms on implementers of the standard and are potentially harmful for OSS implementations (see for example FSF position on W3C policies). Besides licensing issues there are other important issues within standardization bodies policies, like the ten rights reported in Krechmer’s paper “The meaning of Open Standard”. And, last but not least, we might need standardization bodies able to decline to certify subset implementations, or to place requirements upon extensions, as suggested by Perens in his Open Standards and practice, in order to avoid predatory practices.

    Freedom is about knowledge, and data format is much more important than tools’ licenses.

    • Roberto Galoppini 11:10 am on December 1, 2006 Permalink

      OGG/Theora might become a standard, I mean a published standard.
      Unfortunately Xiph.org has not even specified such format, but I believe it might get done. But defining new formats outside of standardization bodies is a risky bet, think about the patent issue.
      In my opinion Richard’s position it’s a pure tacticism, a mean toward a goal: promoting free software.
      My concerns are about data accessibility, and I think we need a strategy to guarantee access to our data, for ever.

  • Roberto Galoppini 7:26 pm on November 29, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Business development: the Covalent marketing approach 

    Last week at the Open Source Accademy event I attended Mark Brewer‘s (Covalent‘s CEO) speech. I learn more about Covalent’s business, mostly related to deliver commercial support for Apache, Axis, Geronimo and Tomcat.

    About open source adoption Brewer reported results from a Forrester Research survey, showing a strong interest of European firms, where about 40% of interviewed firms are already using it, mostly for Web server and Server Operative System areas (seen on another survey).

    Benefits of Open Source reported by Brewer regard lower acquisition costs, as stated by the latter survey, reporting an average of 72% of European firms interviewed claiming lower TCO and acquisition costs as the key advantages over proprietary software. Brewer reported that no license negotiation is required for acquiring OSS, but since corporate lawyers are not familiar with OS licenses they need to manage the risk of Open Source license. How? Buying legal services from specialized firms like Palamida or Black Duck, in order to identify potential legal liabilities.

    Getting back to advantages, Brewer highlighted how vendor independence turns into more freedom of choice, allowing firms to access source code and fix/enhance it by themselves, without involving the vendor. On the other hand he reported lack of knowledge and skills as risk factors in adopting OSS, adding that proprietary vendors deliver inconsistent support for OS solutions; limited support resources and uncertain OS project viability complete his picture. Mitigating such risks requires, as explained in his slide-show, work with appropriate vendors, hire or contract expertise for development, integration or deployment, choose commercial distribution of OS software to obtain indemnification and fully tested and certified solutions.

    I believe Fortune 500 Companies can follow his line, but in Europe, and especially in Italy, the market is made by SMEs. I doubt CIOs are willing to spend time and money to know which OS products are mature, then looking around searching for appropriate vendors, pay money to get legal advices and only then, eventually, get things done.

    Technorati Tags: Covalent, Commercial Open Source, Palamida, Blackduck

  • Roberto Galoppini 3:22 pm on November 28, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Community development: from gift culture to “stealing” hackers 

    Open Source firms relying upon a symbiotic approach try to co-develope with communities, and firm management usually is directly involved in community development:the symbiotic approach is mostly focused on identifying the realization of mutual benefits either for the firm and the community.
    A firm adopting the symbiotic approach might partecipate to a project contributing with software internally developed, or providing an infrastructure that facilitates collaboration and stimulating interaction.
    Community members have no formal connection to the firm and they disregard firm’s goals if they are not in line with those of the community, therefore the firm has to pay attention to keep volunteers working.

    Mark Shuttleworth has recently posted on his blog an invitation to OpenSuse developers to join the Ubuntu community, concluding that

    if you have an interest in being part of a vibrant community that cares about keeping free software widely available and protecting the rights of people to get it free of charge, free to modify, free of murky encumbrances and “undisclosed balance sheet liabilities”, then please do join us.

    Will OpenSuse developers join Ubuntu?
    As a matter of fact the relationship between communities and firms tend to deteriorate as the firm become more commercial oriented, making collaboration a very delicate and important issue, above all for companies whose business models are based on “weak” intellectual property asset.

  • Roberto Galoppini 12:58 pm on November 27, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Java&OpenOffice.org – Simon Phipps (part II) 

    The day I met Simon Phipps Sun organised a dinner and I had a chance to speak with him about Sun’s strategy about Open Source. I first asked if Sun was planning to create for Java a community council has the OpenOffice.org one. As a matter of fact as OpenOffice.org volunteer in almost four years the council was mostly useless, if not harmful, as for the splash screen case (see the Italian article). As accademic paper writer on voluntary Open Source organization of work I can say that the Community Council Proposal idea to require an unanimous consesus doesn’t make any sense: despite the will to make the community as democratic as possible, makes the council unable to take any real decision.

    Consensus Voting: To avoid disenfranchising any group represented by a Council member, all council votes will be by consensus of all nine voting members. (Community Council Proposal, comma V b)

    I was pleased by the fact Simon told me they are already working on it, things are going to change in the very next future, as stated by simple but effective actions like creating an email (ombudsman at sun.com) to solve problems that volunteers can’t fix opening issues.
    I want to give it a try seeing if we might eventually find a way to include the community-developed Italian dictionary and thesaurus in the Sun official OpenOffice.org builds (see the following issues 70182 and 65039).

    Getting back to my previous question to Simon about the double licensing business model, I told him that in Italy, and I guess everywhere but in Germany where the Sun German subsidiary has strong knowledge of OpenOffice.org, customers are willing to pay to get value added services but they can’t buy migration services (changed after Phipps comment, see below) from Sun.

    Simon said they’re going to sell global services on it, as they already do for Sun Solaris 10 (see Sun Solaris Service Plan), and I think that document migration and software distribution will be key success factors. On the other hand channel partnerships might be deeply affected by shifting to a global service approach, and this is an issue that need further considerations.
    About Java I was impressed by the speed Sun’s move it’s getting interest, starting from the amazing declaration of Richard Stallman (see his video), and Simon told me that he seeing much interest from many important and vibrant communities, like Ubuntu.

    • Simon Phipps 2:02 pm on November 27, 2006 Permalink

      Actually the support plans for OpenOffice.org are already live…

    • Rob 3:19 pm on November 27, 2006 Permalink

      Thanks Simon, any plan for the migration services as well?

    • Simon Phipps 8:28 pm on November 27, 2006 Permalink

      Nothing public at the moment.

    • Davide Dozza 10:35 pm on December 8, 2006 Permalink

      License issues are becoming very sensible for OOo especially for native-lang projects where linguistic tools (dictionaries, thesaurus and hyphenators) are central for having an effective localization products.
      Several issues have been raised about and the problem is always the GPL incompatibility, which does not allow the integration of GPL tools, which remains one of the preferred license of volunteer contributes.
      As such tools are usually text files, mere aggregation seems a possible way to overcome the problem and to allow the integration of such contributes.
      Unfortunately legal reviewing is taking too much time and native-lang project like italian one keeps the same problem. I hope this matter is discussed as sonn as possible.

      Some of these issues are: 71669

    • Roberto Galoppini 8:37 pm on December 10, 2006 Permalink

      I have already sent a reminder to ombudsman, no answer yet.
      Let’s see if Simon (reading this thread) might help us to speed up the process.

  • Roberto Galoppini 3:52 pm on November 24, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Java&OpenOffice.org – Simon Phipps (part I) 

    On tuesday Mr Phipps was in Milano to join the Open Source Business Accademy. In the morning I attended his speech about Sun approach to free software and I posed him a question about Sun’s strategy for appropriating returns from the commons.

    “As a matter of fact Sun is the firm with the best knowledge about all the projects disclosed to the Open Source community. Is the double-licensing scheme seen for OpenOffice.org the strategy or you have different plans?”

    Simon answered that

    the double licensing StarOffice/OpenOffice.org didn’t work. The next year Sun will be delivering value added services based on open source products, making software profitable for the very first time.

    (to be continued)

  • Roberto Galoppini 8:34 pm on November 21, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Monopoly: Poste Italiane changes ZIP and sells them through a Windows application 

    The postcode database is not free, as in beer, in some countries, like in UK, but it has always been freely available in Italy. On the 20th of September 2006 many zip codes have been changed, and Poste Italiane Spa, the national Italian postal service, stopped to give them for free.

    Reading the Italian FAQ it’s clear that Poste Italiane is trying to create a monopoly through proprietary software. Such program, a stand alone application designed to be used only by a single user, runs only on Windows because of market share evaluations led by Poste Italiane.

    So if you need to access Italian ZIP codes, and not just to make single enquiries through the Web interface, you have to buy that software, and you must use a PC Windows based.

    I’m wondering if the Poste Italiane’s application runs on Wine..

    • Roberto Galoppini 8:01 pm on January 9, 2007 Permalink

      I found interesting an English study stating that Public sector information holders keeping hidden information (raw data) cost the economy half a billion.

  • Roberto Galoppini 11:32 am on November 17, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Licensing: GPL v3 ad personam? 

    Eben Moglen, general counsel of the Free Software Foundation, interviewed by Roger Parkoff yesterday said: “GPL version 3 will be adjusted so the effect of the current deal is that Microsoft will by giving away access to the very patents Microsoft is trying to assert.”

    The GNU General Public License, is in the process of revision from about one year now: the initial GPLv3 discussion draft was released this year in January, and since than many have submitted suggestions for improvement through a partecipatory website, making public and transparent the review process.

    Read the full story (long) on Groaklaw.

  • Roberto Galoppini 5:39 pm on November 16, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Technological club: Google, Microsoft and Yahoo share a standard 

    Google, Microsoft and Yahoo yesterday announced that they’ll use the same sitemaps protocol to index sites. The protocol is under a Creative Commons license, the Attribution-ShareAlike, the most GPLed one. Read the full article.

  • Roberto Galoppini 4:08 pm on November 14, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Embedded Linux: why I have to buy a new mobile phone.. 

    Prologue. When I moved back to TIM, the most important Italian mobile operator, I got a 3G handset by Motorola, the sleek and stylish E1070 (software version R25221LD_U_85.83.E2P, DSP version 407B0000).
    I have never been fond of the Motorola style user interface, and I didn’t appreciate that I need to buy a special USB cable to connect the E1070 to my laptop, but I could manage to live with that.

    I understand that in spite of its 64 MB of internal memory the E1070 might asks the user to erase short-messages even if it’s not running out of memory, but what I can really stand it’s that its rubric simply doesn’t work.

    Bugs. I can add new contacts, at random but quite often I can’t take any advantage of it, because when I access my rubric and I try to call it crashes. I did find a workaround, I keep short messages received from such contacts and I call them through them, it’s crazy but works. What I couldn’t fix it’s another bug that doesn’t allow me to see either last calls, even if I switch it off and on over and over. After hours or days the E1070 starts working properly again for a while.
    It’s an harmful bug, I do loose business contact because of it.

    Shared Standards. Do you rembember the Symbian promise?
    It was established in UK as a private independent company in June 1998, the original shareholders were Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia.In October 2003 Motorola withdrew from Symbian as a shareholder by selling is stake to Nokia and Psion, becoming a simple licensee.

    I had already some doubts about the Symbian technological club in the beginning of 2003 (Italian), the idea was good but the implementation was poor, since even the most important shareholders were using their own dialect of Symbian. As a matter of fact, at the end of the day different symbian-based mobile phones turn to be not compatible.

  • Roberto Galoppini 6:16 pm on November 13, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Licensing: While the Sun rise up on a free Java, an Apple today took the freedom away 

    Java is getting free, Sun announced its free and open source java project just while we’re reading a new chapter of the long and well known Apple Public Source License story.
    I wrote an article about APSL almost four years ago now (in Italian) and at that stage it was OSI approved but didn’t qualify as a free software license. From the release 2.0 APSL license get approved also by the Free Software Foundation, and since than everything seemed to be just fine.

    Silently Apple changed it, not changing the revision number, read the full story and wonder what we might get from these seeds, just while the last Sun move brings the Santa Clara firm closer and closer to the open source community.

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