Archive for the ‘Opensource’ Category

Amazon EC2 Linux AMIs

If you use Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), you are always given choices of AMIs (by default; there are plenty of other AMIs available for your base-os): Amazon Linux AMI, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Enterprise Server and Ubuntu. In terms of cost, the Amazon Linux AMI is the cheapest, followed by SUSE then RHEL. 

I use EC2 a lot for testing, and recently had to pay a “RHEL tax” as I needed to run a RHEL environment. For most uses I’m sure you can be satisfied by the Amazon Linux AMI. The last numbers suggest Amazon Linux is #2 in terms of usage on EC2.

Anyway, recently Amazon Linux AMI came out with the 2014.03 release (see release notes). You can install MySQL 5.1.73 or MySQL 5.5.36 (the latter makes the most sense today) easily without additional repositories.

The most interesting part of the release notes though? When the 2014.09 release comes out, it would mark 3 years since they’ve gone GA with the Amazon Linux AMI. They are likely to remove MySQL 5.1 (its old and deprecated upstream). And:

We are considering switching from MySQL to MariaDB.

This should be interesting going forward. MariaDB in the EC2 AMI would be a welcome addition naturally. I do wonder if the choice will be offered in RDS too. I will be watching the forums closely

Ubuntu Edge failure and what it means to me

A few days ago I received a credit from Indiegogo, because the USD$600 that I pledged for the Ubuntu Edge didn’t work out (I pledged on day one not because it was cheap but because I felt I needed the device and thank Canonical for the wonderful work they’ve done in addition to being brave about going into new markets; I would have paid $895 if need be – we don’t get heavily subsidised phones where I come from). There was a lot of buzz about how this is the largest crowdfunding experience ever, and so on, but to me, as a believer in opensource, I feel this failure to get an Ubuntu Edge more than ever.

It was by no means a shoddy amount that was pledged, in the sense that it raised USD$12,813,501 out of the USD$32,000,000 goal. I was curious with who pledged, and this is quite public as well – see the pledges list. But what you see is that a lot of people pledged not for the phone but smaller amounts which I guess is a huge problem.

Simply put, you need about 50,000 people (community members/Ubuntu users/etc.) to pledge to buy the phone (at an average sale price of USD$695). A mere 50,000. I planned to analyze the data, but its great that The Guardian did most of the work for me, so read: Ubuntu Edge: how many phones were really ordered – and the mistakes.

14,577 individuals pledged to order the phone. Enterprises were shy by the looks of it.

Out of the 14,577 individuals, I expect many of them to be Ubuntu users to some extent (if not lovers of opensource). Where are the rest of the Ubuntu users?

The public stats for Ubuntu are quite impressive – generally it is the most popular desktop Linux distribution out there. Just look at the adoption & reception: in June 2009, it was estimated that there are 13 million active users; in fall 2011 Canonical itself estimated more than 20 million users worldwide. This number must have grown tremendously, but even at a 20 million base, you’re looking at 0.073% conversion rate to buy an Ubuntu Edge.

I know people that are Ubuntu users and wanted to buy it, but not at the price point. Over $600 for a phone with a computer that docks just isn’t feasible as a cost in many parts of the developing world. Without user registration, we can’t tell where Ubuntu users are located, but I’m willing to bet it’s a good mix between the developed/developing world, right?

I was hoping to hold an Edge in my hand come May 2014. I’m still hoping to hold an Ubuntu mobile device in my hand. While I am disappointed, I can imagine Mark Shuttleworth asking himself a lot of questions. He’s spent millions developing Ubuntu, the community that surrounds it and the commercial aspects around it. Apparently monetizing the userbase is harder than it looks.

Remembering our ideals & staying in control

Hactivist Richard Stallman takes on proprietary software, SAAS and open source — Tech News and Analysis: “‘Our ideals become forgotten,’ he said of open source eclipsing free software, and encouraged the audience to keep talking about free software.”

Richard Stallman is spot on. Read the whole article. I hope video makes its way online, because RMS is right. 

It further augurs well that I spoke with Mårten Mickos on Twitter today (he’s a former CEO of mine and a brilliant mind) and we got chatting on control. He says, “Every time you choose convenience, you lose a little control.” An interesting conversation followed naturally.

Leaves me a lot to think about as I have over time chosen convenience over control and clearly it has come by because I need to refresh on my ideals.

Need private cloud services? Time to start entrepreneurs

Seeing through appearancesPRISM and the NSA has blown up recently. We have Malaysian politicians worried about it naturally. The opensource zealot will tell you need to prism break.

I’m more pragmatic. I prefer opensource. But if there are no opensource alternatives, I will use the proprietary tool. This extends to cloud software like Google Docs/Drive. Its great at collaboration, which is something you can’t get close. 

I was suggested that FENG Office might work. I retort that it’s not the easiest install and it requires maintenance. Also, with PRISM, the web host clearly matters (they look at the pipes). I didn’t even think to consider LibreOffice due to lack of collaboration in desktop software.

In Malaysia, next generation children are going to be roped into the online Google world via Chromebooks.

So my thinking is simple: if there are no alternatives (to being hosted in the US or to having better controls over your cloud offerings), you should start one. This can be a great business. As the FT says, data privacy is a handy weapon to challenge the titans with.

Watch this video of Fred Wilson. If the world thinks Dropbox is suddenly insecure, its ripe for alternatives to crop up. It also doesn’t mean that people just start using alternative services… DuckDuckGo might have had a 50% increase in search traffic, but all that search traffic may be what Google processes in a moment ;)

This PRISM stuff isn’t going to blow away anytime soon. Now’s the time to come up with matching software that has additional features (like privacy, encryption, etc.). Maybe Kim Dotcom was ahead of the curve with Mega?

MariaDB in Red Hat Software Collections

Towards the end of last year, I was asked to investigate the Red Hat Software Collections by someone that popped by one of my talks. SkySQL has been working heavily with Red Hat, and with Fedora 19 shipping MariaDB as a default, it seems like MariaDB is getting even more distribution. The Red Hat Software Collections 1.0 Beta is now available for users of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.

From a database standpoint, users now get MariaDB 5.5. I encourage all to try it, as it is an in-situ upgrade. It is described as:

MariaDB version 5.5, which introduces an easy-to-adopt alternative for MySQL for Red Hat Enterprise Linux users. Binary compatibility allows MySQL users to drop-in MariaDB without converting data files.

Sweet. But for database users, it also includes MySQL 5.5 (better than 5.1.69), and PostgreSQL 9.2 (better than 8.4.13). After listening to Rasmus Lerdorf talk about PHP 5.4, I’m glad that I can now use it with RHEL6.

I wonder if there will be CentOS Software Collections as well?

Read an article in PCWorld about Software Collections (see a press release too). There’s some developer documentation from Red Hat, and some draft documentation from Fedora too.

Thanks SkySQL, Team MariaDB and Red Hat!

Immediate thoughts on Business Source Licensing

Sunrise at SanurI just got back from a vacation to see articles about Business Source Licensing. I’ve divided my thoughts into four parts here: Opensource and its merits, Is unpaid opensource usage bad?, MariaDB’s “Problem”, Business Source Licensing. If you haven’t read them yet, here’s some mandatory reading:

  1. Open source: Its true cost and where it’s going awry by Monty Widenius
  2. MySQL Co-Founder Wants You To Pay Up For Open Source

There is much abuzz on Twitter as well. From the likes of Mike Olson (who is right, MariaDB may have issues that are different to other OSS products – no two OSS projects/products are alike), to a lengthy conversation between Jim Jagielski & Matt Asay, as well as another conversation spurred by Matt Asay.

Now for some of my own commentary.

Opensource and its merits

Companies have been heavily using opensource and the reason they like this is because it is open. They don’t pay for licenses like proprietary software. They use opensource because they don’t have to pay for support, services, or anything around it. Countries have pro-opensource policies so that they can empower local citizens and further strengthen their sovereignty. This is what makes opensource popular: the fact that the software comes to you with many freedoms.

Is this bad for companies building businesses around opensource software products? Well, kind of. It means you have to provide real value before someone decides to pay you. And if for some reason you price yourself out of the market, companies choose to hire resources internally. This is the beauty of opensource. Many companies I know have started to use RHEL licenses from Red Hat; once they decide they see less value from the updates or the knowledgebase, they switch to CentOS at their next cycle. No problem there.

Is unpaid opensource usage bad?

I’m going to say that I disagree with Monty and think that he is wrong here:

“The more people are using it and, in these cases, abusing the whole idea of open source by not paying back either with development or money to help projects, it is actually destroying open source.”

I really don’t think opensource is destroyed by having many users and lacking corporate sponsors. This is the way of opensource and has been for a long time. Apple makes use of CUPS to ensure printing works – they did so long before they hired their main developer. We all benefitted from Samba which is how we talk to Windows printers/shares/etc. which had no real commercial company around it (Linuxcare, then IBM, then other providers funded the work). LibreOffice has always existed with lots of work by various distributors of OpenOffice.org (via the ooo-build system), which is why the project took off so fast.

MariaDB’s “problem”

When there is commercial need for opensource, the corporate sponsors will arise. It takes a long time to get to a stage where you are going to get profitable in an opensource services or infrastructure company. Red Hat didn’t get to a billion dollars overnight. Neither did MySQL.

I will not comment on the financials of Monty Program, SkySQL or how tough it has been to bootstrap the MariaDB project because I clearly am privy to information there. I am particularly proud of how we’ve done a relatively great job at getting MariaDB users and distribution, all on a bootstrap marketing/PR budget with no professional help :-) However, I will reminisce another day.

Simply put: if Oracle stopped producing opensource MySQL or decided that they would shut it down, there would be immediate need for MariaDB and the corporate sponsors would come in throngs. The truth is that Oracle continues to produce MySQL as an opensource product. It may not be a full opensource project (internal trees, delayed public pushes, private bugs database, internal mailing lists, etc.) that follows “the architecture of participation”, but it is still an opensource product. This is what has enabled people to take MySQL and extend it further. Look at the Facebook 5.6 tree, or the Twitter 5.5 tree.

There is talk about the dual-licenses that MySQL chose to use. I remember a time when the connectors were LGPL. They were then relicensed as GPL. They still are. But I think we effectively nipped this with the: MariaDB LGPL Java client, MariaDB C Client Library, and the BSD drizzle stuff.

Business Source Licensing

Now for the bits on business source:

“The whole idea with business source is actually very trivial. It is a commercial licence that is time-based and which will become open source after a given time, usually three years. But you can get access to all the source. You can use it in any way but the source has a comment that says you can use it freely except in these circumstances when you have to pay,” Widenius said.

“You’re forcing a small part of your user base to pay for the restrictions, which can be if you’re making money from [the software], if you have more than 100 employees, or you’re a big company or something like that. So you’re forcing one portion of your users to pay. But because it’s time-based, everybody knows that you can still contribute to the project,” he said.

“Because you have the code, you know that if the vendor does something stupid, somebody else can give you the support for it. So you get all the benefits of open source except that a small portion of users has to pay. As long as you continue to develop the project, each version still gets a new timeline of three years.”

Hmm. I see many people commenting that MariaDB might become business source licensed. I am here to tell you that MariaDB is GPLv2 software. It will stay GPLv2 software.

Reading the definition of business source licensing, it is nothing like what Matt Asay portrays it to be:

“Business source is simply proprietary software released under a Microsoft-esque shared source license that magically becomes fully open source after a period of time.”

I’m sorry but the description above is pretty clear. This is nothing like Microsoft shared source. It is code that becomes licensed under an OSI-friendly license after a time-period; however everyone using the software gets the code. How does one enforce payments? I don’t know. What are the conditions requiring you to pay? I don’t know.

At this stage, I am open to thoughts on such a licensing model but I have no firm thoughts on this myself. The best description of how this works is given above by Monty.

Update: Sun 2 Jun 2013 17:33:53 MYT Monty has an update on business source licensing in a comment on Matt Asay’s column.


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