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Archive for the ‘Linux and OSS’ Category

Novell forking err.. not

On Slashdot and Groklaw, there is a news item about forking of by Novell. When reading an article, there is no prove for an actual fork, an as is pointed out by Jono Bacon, it seems that Groklaw is just using a sensational heading. As Andries Brouwer points out, the news at Groklaw is probably inspired by the disklike of Microsoft by PF.

Java available under GPL

It’s official: Sun will release Java under the GPLv2. Probably we will see Java by default in most Linux distributions. I think this announcement will also mark the start of a competition between the other ‘higher level’ development environment: .Net. Mono is also available under the GPL and is included by default already in most popular Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Fedora, Suse, Mandrake). Mono has a slight advantage in that it has the possibility to use native widgets for several operating systems, however, this requires to make different versions of a user interface for various operating systems. Java, on the other hand, has Swing – which is cross-platform, and also SWT. The latter is also cross-platform but also uses the native widgets of most operating systems. Also, there are more professional open source development environments for Java: Eclipse and NetBeans.
In my opinion this is a major step for the open source community. I wonder what the impact would be on the other open source Java implementation, known as GCJ/Classpath. Red Has is a major contributer to this project, but I doubt they will continue to invest in this project when there is a viable alternative already available. On advantage that GCJ had on J2SE is that GCJ has the possibility to compile Java programs to binaries which probably run faster.

GPL for Sun Java

According to CRN, Sun will probably release the source of Java under the GPL. This is a very smart move, I think, because it makes it possible to include the Standard and Mobile Edition of Java in most Linux distributions. On the other hand it renders the GCJ project rather useless. A GPL’ed J2SE makes it possible to use a completely free development platform, ranging from the compiler and runtime environment (J2SE and J2RE), development platform (Eclipse), application server (Tomcat) and database (Hibernate in combination with MySQL, PostgreSQL, Firebird or MaxDB (the former SAPdb)).
Sadly, it is not official yet and Sun doesn’t want to confirm anything. I think it would be a very good move from Sun, because it would become one of the few real open source companies (among Red Hat, MySQL and IBM). It doesn’t make any difference for the profitability for Sun, because Java was already available for free. I’m not sure but as far as I know, Sun has not many software you have to pay for. Most software is available under some kind of open source license (mostly CDDL) including Solaris. They probably will make most of their many with hardware sales and service and support.

Apple news

Yesterday, the WWDC opened its doors with a keynote speech of Steve Jobs introducing the new Mac OS X version called Leopard and the anticipated Mac Pro systems. Additionally, the company also introduced new versions of is Xserv server systems and Leopard for the servers.

The innovations in Leopard are not very spectacular in my opinion, or at least I was not waiting for them. The most important innovations according to Apple are Time Machine and Spaces. Time Machines enables user to take a snapshot of the system (stored on an external harddisk or a Xserve) and revert to these snapshots whenever one wants. Unfortunately for Apple, they’re not the first one shipping such a tool, as Miguel points out. Dirvish provides identical features.

Another ‘innovation’ according to Apple is ‘spaces’, which enables the user to keep sets of applications for a given task instantly available. Wow, this sounds very similar to virtual desktops – what an innovation. Ok, I have to admit that I did not see this feature working yet, so probably it is a little more polished than most virtual desktop implementations, but it is not very unlikely that the possibilities are similar. According to the article at AppleInsider, Spaces includes the possibility to preview the various desktops in tumbnial format – probably similar to the working of Exposé. Well, at least is is more useful than the new features (uh, which features?) in Microsoft Vista, whith the difference that Vista contains a lot more changes ‘under the hood’ (at least, I think it does). Ok, so far not a high-priority upgrade.
Obviously Leopard does have more improvements. For example, there are PhotoBooth effects available for Mail (nice, but not something I was waiting for) and provides facilities to store notes and todo lists and aggregate RSS feeds. That could be useful, but there are already tons of e-mail applications which provides these features, and Mac OS X already contained applictions like iCal and sticky notes which fullfill these tasks.
Another thing to mention is the new application Xray, which enables developers to debug applications and do some profiling. According to Calum Bensom, Xray is based on DTrace, which is created by Sun and open sourced under the OpenSolaris project. The implementation of Apple will probably be very nice and the use case they provide in their promotional material confirms this assumption. But while I still didn’t do any development for Mac OS X, I think I will not use it. There are more improvements, but the other improvements in Leopard are mainly bug fixes and small features which in fact doesn’t require a complete new operating system. Currently, I don’t think I will spend money on Leopard, because it doesn’t provide features I will need very much.

Ok, so far on Leopard. Apple also announced a new Mac Pro system. As expected, this system contains two dual-core Xeon processors based on the Woodcrest core (which is in fact a similar core to the Core 2 Duo cores Intel recently introduced). This is a very powerfull system for (considering the features) a resonable price of 2500 dollars. Apart from new processors and the obvious upgrades (new videocard, more memory, faster and bigger harddisks), the system is similar to its PowerPC predecessor. If I had the money, I think I would like to have such a system, because it has so much power that the coming years, upgrades are not very necessary. It is like buying a Ferrari – much faster isn’t available.

Smart people

Today I read about a patch for X-Chat-gnome by David Trowbridge. He is using the HSV-colorspace for improving the readability of IRC-text. I think this is a very smart idea and wonder why anybody else didn’t come with such an idea. I think it may also be useful to use this technique for gnome-terminal, were the readability is sometimes also not very good when performing an SSH-session to a remote host.


Red Hat has introduced a new social community site called ‘Mugshot’. It’s not entirely clear to me what the goal of this project is, but I have got the feeling that it could be useful. Currently, it contains a thing called ‘Music radar’, which enables people to publish information about songs on their weblog or website.. I’m not sure what is new about this. Another feature is called Link Swarn, which enables people to discuss about weblinks. This is quite interesting I think. During my exploration of Mugshot, I came across this. I hope that this will not be the process a user has to go through in the final version, because it will be a nightmare for helpdesks and system administrators, because not any non-technical user will understand this behaviour. On the other hand, if it will be the case, there is a clear oportunity for other OS’ses like Mac OS X and Linux because the usability will be so much better, that even stupid users will see it (I hope).

Three OS’es on MacBook

The Dutch site has a videon online which shows a MacBook (the black edition, so it is a 2,0GHz version) which is running both Mac OS X, Windows (Vista?) and Ubuntu Dapper Drake (beta) on the same time. In order to achieve this, the virtualisation software from Parallels is used. In the video also a virtual desktop application is used, in this case Virtue, so it is possible to run every os full screen on its own desktop. It looks pretty fast on the video and certainly faster than using VMware or something on a Pentium M (which I have in my laptop). Probably this is caused by the Virtualisation Technology from Intel which is build into the Core Duo processor in the MacBook. I think it would be very nice to run Mac OS X and Linux at the same time at almost native speed… The Gimp for example is on Linux a lot faster than on Mac OS X, in my experience.

Helping people is a crime?

Today I read about this article on Slashdot. It is written by a teacher who helped a student reporting a vulnerability on a public (commercial?) website. Because shortly after their report the website was hacked and the police investigated the case, they were almost treated like criminals. I think this is ridiculous. It is almost the same that you will get arrested when you report a suspicious bag on a railway station or warn a house owner when you see that he left his front door open. Fortunately, here in the Netherlands there is no law which enables the police to arrest people for reporting a vulnerability as far as I know (and according to a teacher at our university). Hopefully the EU will not take the US law as an example for this kind of stuff, because the people over there who created this law are obviously not aware of the daily practice regarding the discovery of flaws in software. A typical example of the ignorance of some politician.
The teacher in the article concludes that you should destroy all the evidence that you are aware of an existing vulnerability and certainly not tell the developer/site owner about the bug. While it may be the best thing to do, it is really crazy that you should do this. How the hell do politician want the get a ‘safer and better world’ when it is not allowed to report defects? On the other side, it explains the growing number of spam, the increase in identity theft, the new problems with phising and so on… if they are not going to change this laws and rules, I think we are only seeing the beginning of these things.

Sun gets new CEO

I did not updated this blog very often. I have the intention to change this, because there are some topics I want to write about.. Although nobody reads here, but well, that doesn’t really matter… I am playing nice and not disturbing anyone 🙂

Last week Sun’s co-founder and CEO Scott McNealy decided to drop its function as CEO. He will remain chairman of the board and keep working for Sun, but he will not be the CEO anymore. The new CEO of Sun is Jonathan Schwartz, who was already Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the company. Now the CEO has changed at Sun, people start speculating that the company will ‘open source’ Java. However, it seems that this is based on the press release in which the new function of Schwartz is announced.. and the statement about Java is relatively vague in my opinion, so one should not expect to much of it. However, it would be interesting when Sun decided to make Java free, mainly for the open source desktop and community. But I don’t think this will happen anytime soon.

Firefox videos

The first home-made video’s for the contest of the Mozilla Foundation for an advertisement for tv have appeared on the internet. While most of them are just ‘nice’, one is actually very funny. Unfortunately the video is in Quicktime format, so most people are not able to watch the video.

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