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OSS

The (awesome) economics of open source

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OSS

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Consider how changed a world we live in today when The Economist openly questions the bulk behavior of capitalists as evil bureaucratic rent-seekers and suggests that perhaps Karl Marx has something to teach after all. But the world remains stubbornly the same, as expert after supposed expert attempts to argue that open source software makes no economic sense and that a company like Red Hat cannot, therefore, exist (the latest example being this article on Medium.com).

Arrgh!

W. Edwards Deming said "experience teaches nothing without theory," so I'm going to explain the theory that I believe underlies the 30+ years of experience I've witnessed in the world of successful open source software. A disclaimer: I didn't develop this theory. Credit goes to Ronald Coase (Nobel Prize in Economics, 1991), Oliver Williamson (Nobel Prize in Economics, 2009), and others. And indeed, I was unaware of this theory when I started Cygnus Support, the world's first company to provide commercial support for free software back in 1989. But I did joke, in all seriousness, that someday an economist would win the Nobel Prize in Economics for explaining the theoretical basis of that company. Open source exceeded expectations yet again when not one, but two economists were so honored. And so I begin with a lengthy paraphrase of Coase's Nobel Prize lecture to set up the theory.

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OSS Leftovers

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OSS
  • linuxdev-br: a Linux international conference in Brazil

    linuxdev-br second edition just happened end of last month in Campinas, Brazil. We have put a nice write-up about the conference on the link below. Soon we will start planning next year’s event. Come and join our community!

  • FreeYourGIS: Open Source or Commercial GIS, or both [Ed: Promoting the fiction (FUD) that "Open Source" and "Commercial" are opposites. They should say proprietary, i.e. secret and untrustworthy.]

    I’m a big fan of open source software, including geospatial software, such as QGIS and GeoServer, and it’s not just because it can be used without paying a license fee. The best thing about open source is the community of users that share their code and support one another through shared applications, documentation, tips, and tricks. This is the same spirit that exists in the Pitney Bowes user community (Li360), ESRI’s GeoNET, and the countless other software communities of practice.

  • Another Open-Source IPO Shows the Market Power of "Free" Software
  • LPGPU2 Tools Aiming For Better Power Efficiency On Low-Power GPUs

    With a multi-API video player, as an example, they were able to deliver performance gains up to 25% and energy use reduced up to 25% as well.

    Their tool suite for analysis is based upon AMD's open-source CodeXL program. The code is open-source on GitHub.

Openwashing and EEE

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OSS
  • Altair Introduces Open Source and Free Basic Editions for Model-Based Development Offerings

    Altair (Nasdaq: ALTR) announces the release and immediate availability of free Basic Editions of its Model-Based Development suite and its open matrix language (OML) source code. To help innovators everywhere accelerate the time-to-benefits from Model-Based Development (MBD) and to make MBD more open and accessible, Altair is taking the following steps:

    Building upon its strong reputation of providing open-architecture simulation solutions by open-sourcing its open-source computational programming language, OML. Interested users and contributors can download the source code from the OpenMatrix website.

    Introducing Basic Editions of its MBD suite of software products – Altair Compose™, Altair Activate™, and Altair Embed™ – available to everybody at no cost, with free training videos available online via Altair’s open Learning Center. There are no license fees, nor any subscription or maintenance fees.

  • GitHub Foreshadows Big Open Source Announcements at GitHub Universe
  • Ending PHP Support, and The Future Of Hack [Ed: Facebook EEE]
  • Facebook's Last HHVM Release With PHP Support Set For December

    HHVM that started out as Facebook's project for a high-performance PHP implementation and morphed into the basis of their Hack programming language will cease to support PHP.

    As was decided months ago, Facebook developers will be working on HHVM just for Hack and no longer for PHP compatibility. That's being done in part since PHP7, the official PHP implementation has gotten a lot faster and Facebook has meanwhile migrated more of their internal code to be Hack-based.

Free Software in Businesses

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OSS
  • Tips to adopt open source enterprise architecture tools

    If you're a CTO and your head of engineering asks, "Can we say that Docker is production-ready now?" your answer would undoubtedly be: "Yes." If you weren't using Docker already, you would be eager to adopt the technology that now forms the basis of many companies' application architecture.

  • Inside Alfresco's open source faction: the Order of the Bee

    When Thomas H Lee Partners moved to acquire information management business Alfresco, many of its open source contributors inside and outside the company were concerned the new leadership might not appreciate the open DNA of the firm. Enter the Order of the Bee.

    While those fears ultimately were not realised - to the relief of Alfresco employees and the wider open source ecosystem that contributes - the faction of open source advocates with their DIY philosophy is an independent symbol of the company's open source core.

    The Order of the Bee is a group separate to Alfresco that is concerned chiefly about the open source Community Edition and advocacy of this in the open source and wider technical community.

  • Sauce Labs coding lead: how open source contribution should work

    Sauce Labs is known for its Continuous Testing (CT) technology and the company is a devoted adherent to open source — it provides a continuous testing cloud that allows developers to verify that their web and mobile native apps work correctly across a variety of devices using the open source testing protocols Selenium and Appium.

    [...]

    As an end note here, Sauce Labs says it’s also about culture and the firm insists that contributions comes all the way from Charles Ramsay, the CEO, down.

    Murchie has said that this also highlights that open source is not just about lines of code. Every expertise that is useful within a company is also useful in the open source community.

  • Open Source Eases AT&T’s Technical Burden

    AT&T’s embrace of the open source community was echoed by Wheelus’ colleague Catherine Lefèvre, associate vice president for Network Cloud and infrastructure at AT&T Labs, who said the carrier’s work with that ecosystem is very collaborative. AT&T has been central to a number of telecom-focused open source projects housed with the Linux Foundation, including the Open Network Automation Project (ONAP), the Akraino Edge Stack project, and the Acumos artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning platform.

    “It’s not just thinking about yourself, but what needs to be developed beyond just your own needs,” Lefèvre said of working in the open source community.

Is the ‘commons clause’ a threat to open source?

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OSS
Legal

There are discussions on various forums regarding this clause with conflicting views. So, I will try to give my views on this.

Opposers of the clause believe a software becomes propriety on applying commons clause. This means that any service created from the original software remains the intellectual property of the original company to sell.

The fear is that this would discourage the community from contributing to open-source projects with a commons clause attached since the new products made will remain with the company. Only they will be able to monetize it if they choose to do so.

On the one hand, companies that make millions of dollars from open source software and giving anything back is not in line with the ethos of open source software. But on the other hand, smaller startups and individual contributors get penalized by this clause too.

What if small companies contribute to a large open source project and want to use the derived product for their growth? They can’t anymore if the commons clause is applied to the project they contributed to. It is also not right to think that a contributor deserves 50% of the profits if a company makes millions of dollars using their open source project.

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HopHacks at Johns Hopkins

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OSS
  • HopHacks participants will pursue solutions for cities

    More than 300 undergraduate and graduate students from across the country will gather at Johns Hopkins University this weekend for HopHacks, an annual hackathon event that challenges students to work intensively on a technology- or software-based design.

    Held every fall and spring on the university's Homewood campus, this year's HopHacks features a new design track: the Civic Hack challenges participants to develop apps aimed at improving urban living.

  • HopHacks adds civic track, using open source platform from Paris

    HopHacks is adding a design track focused building technology to improve city life at its fall event.

    The 36-hour student hackathon is scheduled to be held at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood campus from Sept. 14-16. Registration is already closed, according to its website, but there’s some news relevant to all of Baltimore to pass along. For the first time in the series, the biannual event will include a Civic Hack design track among the options for building, according to the JHU Hub.

Openwashing iPhone With "HeadGaze" and Microsoft Openwashing Itself

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Microsoft
Mac
OSS

OpenSSL 1.1.1 Is Released

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OSS
Security

After two years of work we are excited to be releasing our latest version today - OpenSSL 1.1.1. This is also our new Long Term Support (LTS) version and so we are committing to support it for at least five years.

OpenSSL 1.1.1 has been a huge team effort with nearly 5000 commits having been made from over 200 individual contributors since the release of OpenSSL 1.1.0. These statistics just illustrate the amazing vitality and diversity of the OpenSSL community. The contributions didn’t just come in the form of commits though. There has been a great deal of interest in this new version so thanks needs to be extended to the large number of users who have downloaded the beta releases to test them out and report bugs.

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Also: OpenSSL 1.1.1 Released With TLS 1.3 Support, Better Fends Off Side-Channel Attacks

OSS Leftovers

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OSS
  • Can Open Source Improve Japan’s New Blockchain-based Voting System?

    Besides Switzerland and the USA, Japan is now the most recent implementer of Blockchain in its voting system. Let’s take a look at the news in brief and also the current challenges in the model. Can Open Source help in tackling them?

    [...]

    Complete details of the initiative (translated) are available on the Tsukuba city page.

    Though integrating Blockchain with the “My Number” system makes the voting process easier, there really are some notable setbacks, one of which is described in the video that needs to be dealt with in order to improve this voting system.

  • IRC's 30th Birthday; Mozilla Working on New JavaScript APIs for VR; Arch Linux Answering Questions on Reddit; Microsoft Splits Its Visual Studio Team Services; and Hortonworks, IBM and Red Hat Announce the Open Hybrid Architecture Initiative

    Mozilla yesterday announced it is beginning a new phase of work on JavaScript APIs "that will help everyone create and share virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) projects on the open web". Mozilla's new WebXR Device API has two goals: 1) "To support a wider variety of user inputs, such as voice and gestures, giving users options for navigating and interacting in virtual spaces"; and 2) "To establish a technical foundation for development of AR experiences, letting creators integrate real-world media with contextual overlays that elevate the experience." For more information, see the Immersive Web Community Group.

  • Converting a WebGL application to WebVR

    A couple months ago I ported the Pathfinder demo app to WebVR. It was an interesting experience, and I feel like I learned a bunch of things about porting WebGL applications to WebVR that would be generally useful to folks, especially folks coming to WebVR from non-web programming backgrounds.

    Pathfinder is a GPU-based font rasterizer in Rust, and it comes with a demo app that runs the Rust code on the server side but does all the GPU work in WebGL in a TypeScript website.

    We had a 3D demo showing a representation of the Mozilla Monument as a way to demo text rasterization in 3D. What I was hoping to do was to convert this to a WebVR application that would let you view the monument by moving your head instead of using arrow keys.

  • Combining the Benefits of Commercial & Open Analytics [Ed: "Commercial & Open" is misleading because Free/Open Source software is used a lot commercially. Some just attempt to spread the line/lie that only proprietary is suitable commercially.]
  • More Details On The AMD GCN Back-End For GCC That's Expected To Merge For GCC 9

    -
    Last week I reported on Code Sourcery / Mentor Graphics posting their new AMD GCN port to the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC). This GPU back-end for the widely-used GCC compiler is hoped for merging ahead of the GCC 9 stable release expected in early 2019. At this past weekend's GNU Tools Cauldron 2018 conference was a briefing by Mentor Graphics on undertaking funded by AMD.

  • Book review: The Economics of Open Access – on the Future of Academic Publishing

    Two decades ago, the world of academic publishing was taken by a storm called ‘open access’. The movement of ‘open access’ advocates for making published content available to the public for free. No fees and no (or little) right-based restrictions to limit access (apparently, the wisdom that authors need financial incentives to create does not apply to scholars who write for pleasure or reputation alone). The aim of open access is [was] to democratize access to knowledge. In ‘The Economics Open Access’, Thomas Eger and Marc Scheufen investigate whether ‘open access’ strategies have delivered on their promises.

    Combined with the rise of the Internet and digital technologies, open access strategies should have made the dissemination of knowledge (via academic publications) cheaper than ever. Instead, we find libraries facing higher subscription fees which forces them to cut back on their catalogue listing and monograph in-take…so what went wrong?

    The book offers an economic empirical analysis the impact of ‘open access’ has had on the academic publishing market world-wide. The analysis is based on two different sets of data: an ‘objective’ data set capturing the state of the academic publishing markets (i.e. growth in publication numbers, publishers, levels of open-access practices etc.), and a ‘subjective’ data set which documents scholars’ views on open access policies and how they engage with them in practice. This second set of data, based on over 10,000 responses from 25 different countries, is undoubtedly the most novel and original contribution of the book to the debate.

  • Europe's New 'Plan S' For Open Access: Daft Name, Great News

    Keeping copyright in the hands of authors is crucial: too often, academics have been cajoled or bullied into handing over copyright for their articles to publishers, thus losing the ability to determine who can read them, and under what conditions. Similarly, the CC-BY license would allow commercial use by anyone -- many publishers try to release so-called open access articles under restrictive licenses like CC-BY-NC, which stop other publishers from distributing them.

    Embargo periods are routinely used by publishers to delay the appearance of open access versions of articles; under Plan S, that would no longer be allowed. Finally, the new initiative discourages the use of "hybrid" journals that have often enabled publishers to "double dip". That is, they charge researchers who want to release their work as open access, but also require libraries to take out full-price subscriptions for journals that include these freely-available articles.

    Suber has a number of (relatively minor) criticisms of Plan S, which are well-worth reading. All-in-all, though, this is a major breakthrough for open access in Europe, and thus the world. Once "admirably strong" open access mandates like Plan S have been established in one region, others tend to follow in due course. Let's just hope they choose better names.

  • Open Jam, the open source game jam, returns for 2018

    Team Scripta is back with the second annual Open Jam, a game jam that promotes open source games and game creation tools.

  • AsioHeaders 1.12.1-1

    A first update to the AsioHeaders package arrived on CRAN today. Asio provides a cross-platform C++ library for network and low-level I/O programming. It is also included in Boost – but requires linking when used as part of Boost. This standalone version of Asio is a header-only C++ library which can be used without linking (just like our BH package with parts of Boost).

What the gamer means to open source coder culture

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OSS

The first episode of Season 2 of the Command Line Heroes podcast drops today. (New episodes will be available every other week, and there's also bonus material you can get via the newsletter.) The new season focuses on seven big influencers that have shaped IT infrastructure and modern development over the last 40 years.

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Android Leftovers

Elementary OS Juno Beta 2 Released

Elementary OS June beta 2 is now available to download. This second beta build of the Ubuntu-based Linux distribution touts a number of changes over the elementary OS june beta released back in July. Due to the shifting sands on which Juno is built the elementary team advise those planning on testing the release to do so by making a fresh install rather than doing an upgrade from beta 1 or (worse) an older version of elementary OS. Read more

today's howtos

Linux - The beginning of the end

You should never swear at people under you - I use the word under in the hierarchical sense. Colleagues? Well, probably not, although you should never hold back on your opinion. Those above you in the food chain? It's fair game. You risk it to biscuit it. I say, Linus shouldn't have used the language he did in about 55-65% of the cases. In those 55-65% of the cases, he swore at people when he should have focused on swearing at the technical solution. The thing is, people can make bad products but that does not make them bad people. It is important to distinguish this. People often forget this. And yes, sometimes, there is genuine malice. My experience shows that malice usually comes with a smile and lots of sloganeering. The typical corporate setup is an excellent breeding ground for the aspiring ladder climber. Speaking of Linus, it is also vital to remember that the choice of language does not always define people, especially when there are cultural differences - it's their actions. In the remainder of the cases where "bad" language was used (if we judge it based on the approved corporate lingo vocab), the exchange was completely impersonal - or personal from the start on all sides - in which case, it's a different game. The problem is, it's the whole package. You don't selective get to pick a person's attributes. Genius comes with its flaws. If Linus was an extroverted stage speaker who liked to gushy-mushy chitchat and phrase work problems in empty statements full of "inspiring" and "quotable" one-liners, he probably wouldn't be the developer that he is, and we wouldn't have Linux. So was he wrong in some of those cases? Yes. Should he have apologized? Yes, privately, because it's a private matter. Definitely not the way it was done. Not a corporate-approved kangaroo court. The outcome of this story is disturbing. A public, humiliating apology is just as bad. It's part of the wider corporate show, where you say how sorry you are on screen (the actual remorse is irrelevant). Linus might actually be sorry, and he might actually be seeking to improve his communication style - empathy won't be part of that equation, I guarantee that. But this case - and a few similar ones - set a precedence. People will realize, if someone like Linus gets snubbed for voicing his opinion - and that's what it is after all, an opinion, regardless of the choice of words and expletives - how will they be judged if they do something similar. But not just judged. Placed in the (social) media spotlight and asked to dance to a tune of fake humility in order to satisfy the public thirst for theatrics. You are not expected to just feel remorse. You need to do a whole stage grovel. And once the seed of doubt creeps in, people start normalizing. It's a paradox that it's the liberal, democratic societies that are putting so much strain on the freedom of communication and speech. People forget the harsh lessons of the past and the bloody struggles their nations went through to ensure people could freely express themselves. Now, we're seeing a partial reversal. But it's happening. The basket of "not allowed" words is getting bigger by the day. This affects how people talk, how they frame their issues, how they express themselves. This directly affects their work. There is less and less distinction between professional disagreement and personal slight. In fact, people deliberately blur the lines so they can present their business ineptitude as some sort of Dreyfuss witchhunt against their glorious selves. As an ordinary person slaving in an office so you can pay your bills and raise your mediocre children, you may actually not want to say something that may be construed as "offensive" even though it could be a legitimate complaint, related to your actual work. This leads to self-censored, mind-numbing normalization. People just swallow their pride, suppress their problems, focus on the paycheck, and just play the life-draining corporate game. Or they have an early stroke. Read more Also: Google Keeps Pushing ChromeOS and Android Closer Together