Archive for the ‘Opensource’ Category

Homebrew and opensource analytics

Today I ran a quick brew update, and noticed the following:

==> Homebrew has enabled anonymous aggregate user behaviour analytics
Read the analytics documentation (and how to opt-out) here:
  https://git.io/brew-analytics
Updated Homebrew from  to .
Updated 2 taps (caskroom/cask, homebrew/core).
No changes to formulae.

Its well worth reading the document: Homebrew’s Anonymous Aggregate User Behaviour Analytics.

I’m in support of this move, after all Homebrew is valuable for me, and the volunteers need to know where to place importance of their time. I guess its also important to know if they should support many versions of OS X (as of this writing, I am still running OS X 10.10 instead of having upgraded).

Being non-server software, this is turned on by default. Imagine if we could do that with MariaDB Server and the feedback plugin? Its opt-in, and you don’t get statistics that “match reality” so to speak. E.g. some 12k servers out there, or how 88% of users are using Microsoft Windows. This number is wildly different from the quoted 12 million users in a recent press release.

Opensource projects, especially venture backed opensource projects/products, are always looking for metrics and usage statistics. The old adage at MySQL was that you were a user for about 3 years, before you even bought services. Its clear that we all need better metrics instead of download numbers. Kudos to Homebrew for being so brave.

Trying out the Intel NUC

I was thinking about buying a Mac Mini, but the Apple Store in Malaysia has over-priced it, due to the crazy Malaysian Ringgit (prices don’t reflect current realities; custom Mac Mini with all things thrown in is USD$1,499 vs RM6,899, today’s rate being RM6,435).

So I decided to buy an Intel NUC and go the Linux route. I picked up the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYH from CZone for RM1,643 which has an Intel Core i5-5250U processor, WiFi, Ethernet but requires you to provide some RAM, storage and you’re good to go. This is the model that allows an M.2 SSD and another regular 2.5” disk, so I chose to get the Transcend M.2 256GB SATA III 6Gb/s MTS800 to be the disk I’ll used to install an OS on for RM477 and decided that I’ll get another disk for storage/Dropbox purposes — HGST 7000rpm 2.5-Inch 1TB SATA III. RAM was easy – just make sure to get low power DDR3 RAM (DDR3L), and its easy enough to pick up 2*8GB sticks for a total of 16GB of RAM.

All in, I paid RM2,713 for this, and I provided by own MiniDisplayPort to VGA adapter. I see this as a huge savings over the Mac Mini. Sure, I can get a 2TB spinning disk on the Mac Mini (it seems that OEM folk can’t get these fusion drives at that size), but if I really wanted to go all out, I could have gotten a larger M.2 SSD and also went all in with SSD instead of spinning disk. Maybe when the 6th generation NUC comes out.

Configuring Ubuntu was relatively easy. Ubuntu 15.10 did require me to boot with the nomodeset option (so immediately after the visual BIOS splash screen, hit the Shift key, press e to edit the displayed kernel, and when it says ro quiet splash, edit it to say ro nomodeset quiet splash. You install Ubuntu via a USB thumb drive as well.

This is basically a server with X for me. It’s doing tasks like syncing Dropbox, backing up with CrashPlan, and it will allow me to use Docker containers, compile software, etc. while I’m sitting at my desk. It makes for a pretty mean desktop, all packed in a tiny little package. 

Why didn’t I go with the current i7? Seems like there wasn’t too much of a performance boost (good reading: Intel NUC Mini PC Review: Core i5 and i7 Benchmarked). The 6th Gen is also coming, so it will be a much more interesting platform for me (see the NUC6i5SYH; here’s hoping they also have i7 versions).

OLS needs your help – please donate

I went to my first OLS (Ottawa Linux Symposium) in 2005. I was living in Melbourne, Australia and I had to make it all the way to Ottawa, Canada. If you don’t want to read ahead, please consider donating to save OLS. I am providing my story after getting inspired by Matt Domsch’s: Ottawa Linux Symposium needs your help (I think I met mdomsch at OLS, and we continued working together on the Fedora Project even).

Anyway, how did I do this? In 2005, I won the national category of the Regional Delegate Program (RDP) of linux.conf.au 2005, which was sponsored by Sun Microsystems. Basically it meant that as a winner within Australia, I got to visit a grassroots event that was similar to LCA and naturally that was OLS. This was a time that the kernel summit was organised alongside the OLS, and I was totally excited. Not only did Sun pay for my travel & expenses to LCA 2005 (my first time to Canberra to boot), they also covered me to head to Ottawa. 

Consequently I met Simon Phipps for the first time in 2005, and he wrote this at his old Sun blog:

I really like that particular sponsorship as it allows the real stars of open source, the individual contributors, to attend the conference and gain recognition for their efforts. It works by paying the expenses and conference fees for ten key contributors (one from New Zealand and nine from around Australia) to attend the event, and then giving one of them (in this case Colin Charles from Victoria, a contributor to both Fedora and OpenOffice.org) an all-expenses paid trip to a conference in Europe or the US.

Who’d have thought that a relationship that started in 2005 would continue till this very day (we talked during due diligence of MySQL/Sun days, we worked together at Sun, and now Simon is the CEO of the MariaDB Foundation) in so many various different forms?

Looking back, connecting the dots, I’d like to think a lot of this was enabled by LCA and OLS (and the opensource stewardship that Sun Microsystems stood for). If anyone wants to look at a talk I wrote in 2005, about my experience with OLS and the very first Ubuntu Summit (pre-UDS, this was UbuntuDownUnder), take a look at The Last Two Weeks of My Life.

That said, I digress. This post is about OLS and its organiser Andrew Hutton (ajh). I’ve visited OLS several times as an attendee, and even as a speaker. I’ve not made it there in the last few years due to conflicting commitments, but I sincerely hope to make it there in 2015. You need to help the event by donating to OLS.

I’ve met so many people in various walks of life at OLS. OLS was a big event during the times of the kernel summit. It may have not grown much since, but the movers and shakers of the opensource world were always there. I learned so many new things, met so many great people, and networked with an awesome lot of folk.

That to me was the benefit of going all the way to Ottawa. Community. Camaraderie. Inclusiveness. Lasting friendship. 

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.


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