OSS

Free/Open Source software (FOSS)

EFF releases experimental open wireless router firmware

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OSS

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced the release of the alpha version of an Open Wireless Router firmware. It was officially announced at the HOPE X (Hackers on Planet Earth) conference in New York City.

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Tor, trust and the NSA

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OSS
Security

Tor is an anonymizing network that’s designed to protect you by “bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.”

That’s cool, but does Tor really guarantee you what you think or assume it does? I can’t say for sure, but when facing a state-sponsored entity with time and resources on its side, you cannot be too careful. At least if pays to know what other people think about Tor, especially when what they have to say runs counter to what you know, or what you think you know.

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Kerala Legislature moves to open source software; LibreOffice

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LibO
OSS

The Kerala Legislative Assembly (Niyamsabha) has shifted to free and open software, following the expiry of support period to Windows XP.

It has also started producing all its documentation, both digital and printed materials, using the free and open source office suite LibreOffice from yesterday (July 17, 2014).

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FOSS & the IRS: Now We're Talking

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OSS
Legal

We've been watching with great interest this week as the travails of FOSS organizations with the US Internal Revenue Service have become a hot topic. When our client, Jim Nelson of Yorba, discussed blogging about the IRS rejection of Yorba's application for 501c3 status with us, we hoped but did not expect that the situation, to which we had discreetly called community and company attention for years, would finally receive some. We're very glad that's now happening. Unfortunately, it's really too late. Because of the long delays in determination imposed by the IRS in its increasingly anti-FOSS positioning, neither the full consequences of the IRS's present position nor the state of our legal technology in response can be seen from the materials currently under discussion.

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Kerala Legislature announces smooth transition to free software

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GNU
OSS

The Kerala Legislative Assembly has made a significant transition to the free software platform for recording its voluminous business.

The Speaker’s announcement to this effect a couple of days ago represented a milestone not just for the IT Department of the Niyama Sabha, but also for the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (Icfoss) based here, the larger free software community, and free software enterprises in Kerala.

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PredictionIO’s $2.5M money bag suggests open-source is right for machine learning

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OSS

PredictionIO, a startup that has crafted an open-source program to let developers add machine-learning smarts to their applications, might just be setting the tone for the next wave in data technology.

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A juggernaut like the NHS won’t find it easy to drop Windows for open source - but it should

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GNU
Linux
Microsoft
OSS

Microsoft is a commercial venture so it is reasonable for them to sell their products, which they do via licensing per unit. The NHS has about 100,000 computers, so it pays a considerable amount and also has a lot of work to do each time there’s a required update for any of their server technologies or desktop computers. While it needs some technical tweaking, Windows is sold as something that comes out of the box and should work. Designed to work with a wide range of different types of systems, the one size that fits (almost) all computers is a bonus for many technical managers.

But it hasn’t been problem-free. Most hospitals still have thousands of PCs running Windows XP which stopped being supported earlier this year.

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The state of accessibility in Linux and open source software

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Linux
Interviews
OSS

Spencer Hunley is an autistic professional, former Vice Chair of the Kansas City Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities, and current board member of the Autism Society of the Heartland & ASAN's Kansas City chapter. In August, Spencer will be giving a talk, Universal Tux: Accessibility For Our Future Selves, at LinuxCon in Chicago. He also gave a talk, Maximizing Accessibility: Engaging People with Disabilities In The Linux Community, at LinuxCon North America 2013.

In this interview, Spencer provides an update on the state of accessibility in Linux and open source software.

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OFE: 'Continued discrimination in IT procurement'

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Microsoft
OSS

Public administrations across Europe continue to discriminate in their IT calls for tender by asking for specific brands and products, concludes OpenForum Europe, and organisation advocating for an open, competitive ICT market. "Thousands of small IT firms are excluded from competing in the public procurement process by restrictions such as the naming of trademarks in calls for tender", said Graham Taylor, OFE's CEO, in a press statement.

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25 Best Open Source Android Apps for Small Business

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Android
OSS

It's not easy to wade through the Google Play store to find open source apps, so we put together a quick guide to some nifty productivity, Internet, and game apps. Some are free, some cost a few bucks, and it's always a good practice to slip a few dollars into the tip jars, because nothing says "thank you" better than cash money.

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How open source can solve Silicon Valley's engineering crisis

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OSS

Silicon Valley may think itself the center of the universe, but when it comes to open source, it can only muster a third-place finish. According to an analysis of top GitHub contributors, both Europe and the rest of the United States develop more open-source software than Silicon Valley. While this may not be surprising given Europe's long-standing affection for open source, it is a reminder that much of the best development talent doesn't live along Highway 101 and probably never will.

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Crowdfunding for open source software

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OSS

Nowadays when people say “crowdfunding,” most people know exactly it is, but just a few short years ago, the term was not commonly used. Bountysource is easy to explain now: it is a crowdfunding site aimed at open source software developers, but a decade ago, people just were not sure what it was or how it worked. Even the founders said the project died quickly because people were unsure of its intentions.

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Cloud, open source power TransLink's Web presence

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OSS
Drupal

It was an aging bespoke application that drove TransLink to seek a new content management system, but it was the strength of the community surrounding the open source project that helped the Queensland public transport agency choose Drupal.

Prior to the switch to Drupal, which began last year, the former TransLink site was partly based on static files and partly on a "home-grown CMS that managed a lot of our custom content such as service disruption and events, so that we could do a little bit of distributed authoring within the organisation," said Natalie Gorring, manager, online products and services, at TransLink.

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$35 OpenWRT SBC targets educational apps

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Linux
OSS

Belgian father-and-son startup DPTechnics is promoting its new open-spec DPT Board as an educational tool for budding embedded developers. Just as the similarly priced Raspberry Pi has been seeded in U.K. schools, DPTechnics is working with schools in Belgium to integrate the board in their curricula.

The fully open source “DPT Board” consists of the combination of a baseboard plus an “OpenWRT Embedded Module” COM (computer-on-module), creating a defacto single board computer (SBC). During its Indiegogo funding session, the COM is available separately for $20 or integrated with the baseboard as the DPT Board for $35 ($45 with cables). If the company fails to make its $6,000 funding goal after 27 days, it will continue with the project anyway, although ship dates would slip from the current delivery date, which is scheduled for the end of the funding period.

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“To whom much has been given, much is expected in return” – Free Software economics

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LibO
OSS
OOo

When it comes to Free Software projects, there’s a profound, deep misunderstanding about who does what and how it’s being done. Using the now overused quote, developers write a code “because they have an itch to scratch”, means that there can be twenty different motivations to contribute to Free Software. No one needs to explain or justify his or her contribution. In the real world, one of the most common motivation is money, be it in the form of a salary, a fee, or a transaction involving the developers to fix whatever bug or develop a new feature. Most of the FOSS projects I know -excluding Firefox- do not pay developers directly for fixing bugs except in very specific circumstances and by definition not on a regular basis. The LibreOffice project is no different. The Document Foundation serves the LibreOffice project by financing its infrastructure, protecting its assets and improving LibreOffice in almost every way except paying for development on a regular basis. What this means, in other terms, is that the Document Foundation does not provide support; nor does it provide service to customers. In this sense, it is not a software vendor like Microsoft or Adobe. This is also one of the reasons why there is no “LTS” version of LibreOffice; because the Document Foundation will not provide a more or less mythical “bug-free version” of LibreOffice without ensuring the developers get paid for this. The healthiest way to do this is to grow an ecosystem of developers and service providers who are certified by the Document Foundation and are able to provide professionals with support, development, training and assistance.

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Announcing Project Zero

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Google
OSS
Security

Security is a top priority for Google. We've invested a lot in making our products secure, including strong SSL encryption by default for Search, Gmail and Drive, as well as encrypting data moving between our data centers. Beyond securing our own products, interested Googlers also spend some of their time on research that makes the Internet safer, leading to the discovery of bugs like Heartbleed.

The success of that part-time research has led us to create a new, well-staffed team called Project Zero.

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Coimbra University to save plenty with open source ERP

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OSS

By implementing ODOO, an open source solution for enterprise resource planning (ERP), the University of Coimbra in Portugal can expect to save more than 70 per cent over the next five to six years compared to the costs of a well-known proprietary ERP solution, says ThinkOpen, a Portuguese ERP consultancy. The university is using ODOO (renamed in May from OpenERP) for its five stores.

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Though “barely an operating system,” DOS still matters (to some people)

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OS
OSS

Earlier this month, I spent a day working in the throwback world of DOS. More specifically, it was FreeDOS version 1.1, the open source version of the long-defunct Microsoft MS-DOS operating system. It's a platform that in the minds of many should've died a long time ago. But after 20 years, a few dozen core developers and a broader, much larger contributor community continue furthering the FreeDOS project by gradually adding utilities, accessories, compilers, and open-source applications.

All this labor of love begs one question: why? What is it about a single-tasking command-line driven operating system—one that is barely up to the most basic of network-driven tasks—that has kept people’s talents engaged for two decades? Haven't most developers abandoned it for Windows (or, tragically, for IBM OS/2)? Who still uses DOS, and for what?

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Is making your product free and open source crazy talk?

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Interviews
OSS

Making money from open source. To many in the corporate world, that seems like a contradiction in terms. How are you supposed to make money from something that you give away? they ask. It can be done. A number of companies, large and small, have done quite well in the open source space over the years.

Just ask Patrick McFadin. He’s the chief evangelist for Apache Cassandra at DataStax, a company that’s embraced the open source way. He’s also interviewed leaders at a number of successful open source companies to gain insights into what makes a successful open source business.

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When "Free" Can Suck.

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GNU
Linux
OSS

When I first started The HeliOS Project, I was using Librenet on my personal computer. Libranet had a per-user licensing agreement in order to make the effort pay and a single user license was for 69.00 If I remember correctly. Jon Danzig and I worked out a multiple licensing agreement that we could both live with. The fact is, Jon almost gave those licenses away because he believed in what we were doing. Jon's untimely death in 2005 eventually resulted in the Libranet venture striking their tents and moving on.

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