Posts Tagged ‘open source’

Open Source Appreciation Day at Percona Live

I wrote previously about Percona Live Santa Clara 2014, and I want to bring to your attention something Percona has done that is very nice to open source communities: have an open source appreciation day.

Its before the conference (so on Monday), and you get a choice between the CentOS Dojo (great lineup there including many from Red Hat, Monty from MariaDB, and PeterZ from Percona) or the OpenStack Today (another great lineup there). I’d split my time between both the events if time permitted, except I’m flying in on that day.

I can highly recommend going to either as registration (Free) gets you access to the expo hall & keynotes as well. That’s a saving of $75!!!

Remember to register for the conference where the discount code is still SeeMeSpeak. As a bonus, Serg and I have additional talks now, so there will be more MariaDB goodness at the conference. See you next week!

Microsoft blackouts… Software Freedom

Are you a user of Microsoft Windows? Are you a user of a non-licensed copy of Microsoft Windows? Does it happen to be Windows XP Professional? Have you seen “blackouts“?

Apparently, from about the end of last month (August 27 2008, to be precise), users of pirated copies of Microsoft Windows XP Professional that also happen to be connected to the Internet will see their screens go black, and have no icons visible.

The esteemed folk at Microsoft Malaysia seem to think that there are 8.6 million users of Windows XP Professional in Malaysia (seems like a huge number, considering the population), and about three million will suffer from these “blackouts”. Only 35% of Windows XP Professional users are pirates?

Its a most interesting tactic. Annoy the user by allowing them to change their background, and 60 minutes later, give them grief again. After all, an original copy of Windows XP Professional only costs RM580. That’s about 227 litres of unleaded petrol, at the current rate of RM2.55/L. Or nearly 6 tanks of petrol, in a more fuel efficient car. No wonder, people prefer paying RM5 for pirated media.

I don’t see why anyone in their right minds will be paying for last generation software, that already reached its end-of-life. Even industry pundits seem to think its a tactic to get people to upgrade to Windows Vista, which amongst corporations seems to have a slow uptake (read: massive failure for Microsoft’s coffers).

Software Freedom Day is this weekend (September 20 2008). Why not tell Microsoft to keep their software (and their “Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA)”), and go the open source route? There’s an alternative to almost everything they provide. I think the open source world might only be deficient for hardcore gamers (but even that’s being looked into, thanks to CodeWeavers).

Microsoft Open Source
Windows (operating system) Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSolaris
Outlook Thunderbird
Internet Explorer Firefox
MSN Messenger Pidgin (supports Yahoo!, AIM, GTalk, etc.)

Tiny table of equivalents

That pretty much covers desktop productivity, I think. There are alternatives to IIS (Apache), MS SQL Server (MySQL), Visual Studio .NET (NetBeans, Eclipse), and the list just goes longer and longer. There is really no excuse in today’s world to be bogged down by Microsoft’s “Genuine Advantage”. Don’t even let me get started on open standards (which Microsoft flouts or doesn’t practice, period).

Don’t worry about piracy. Don’t bow down to another corporations silly moves. Think open standards. Think freedom. Just go open source.

Does open source need to be “organic”?

Sparse notes from the talk, I noticed Sheeri recording some video, so sitting through that at some stage might make sense. There were no slides, this was a panel discussion. Suggested reading: Organic vs. Non-organic Open Source.

Does Open Source need to be “Organic”?
Brian Aker, Rob Lanphier, Stephen O’Grady, Theodore Ts’o

Taking code, and slapping a certain license on it, doesn’t a successful software project make.

Blurring the distinction, by marketing. Not doing any work to get external contributions.

Open sourcing a product one plans on “genociding”, its really bad.

“Corporate sociopathic Druckerism” — Brian Aker

“As long as the source code is open, let the market decide. MySQL is largely inorganic, and its a success. Much of it comes down to choice.” — Stephen O’Grady

Mark Shuttleworth has pushed the idea that forking is OK. Look at Launchpad: take a project, fork the project, make your change, and you can publish your tree that people can use. The wonders of distributed version control.

Its up to a company to decide if they want an organic or an inorganic project. Its your code, do what you want with it. In the future, an organic project may outstrip your inorganic project.

Netscape: inorganic piece of open source (with Mozilla). Firefox: forked the code, turned it into an organic model, then there was success.

Is Firefox really the best example? Look at what it did for Netscape Corporation or AOL? This won’t work well with the Pointy Haired Boss.

What was your goal of releasing the product under an open source license? If marketing buzz, then you make lots of PR, etc… then go home. If your goal is wanting to cut your development cost, you’re going to be disappointed with an organic model. If your goal is ubiquity, you aim for an organic model.

Commit access actually means you’re a worker bee. It doesn’t mean a free wheel to push features, it means you’re the garbage man – you collect everything, you sort everything, and so on. Let’s rethink what it means to have commit access.

Free and Open Source Software: Use and Production by the Brazilian Government

First up, I want to say, I’m truly impressed with Brazil. One day I will visit this amazing place, and spread the good word of open source with projects that are close to my heart: MySQL,, Fedora, and in due time, a lot more. This is a live-blog, from a most interesting talk, at JavaOne 2008. As I wrote on Twitter, “Brazil, simply impresses me. Their use of open source in government, makes me think that the rest of the world has a lot to learn from them”.

Free and Open Source Software: Use and Production by the Brazilian Government
Rogerio Santana <> +55 61 313 1400, Logistics and Information Technology Secretariat
Planning, Budget and Management Ministry
Brazilian Government

Households with Internet access: 70% in the US4k household income range. 70% of households have mobile phones (even when total revenue is USD$2k). Middle and upper class are all, generally on the Internet.

In 2007, 98% of Income Tax has been sent by the Internet. By 2009, there’s only going to be use of a Java application for this. About 17.5 million people filed via the Internet. Impressive.

Brazil has 142k public schools – 26k are connected to the Internet now (18%), and 92% are connected at low speed, while 8% have 512kbps connections.

Plan? Free Internet for schools, from 2008-2025. 1mbps for each connection, growth plans in the next 3 years.

There exists Computer Reconditioning Centres (CRCs) for recycling PCs. (e-PING: e-Government Interoperability Standards) (e-MAG: e-Government Accessibility Model)

Brazil has been using electronic voting since 1995. 136.8 million people voted in 2006 election. Next version of vote machines will use GNU/Linux!

Open Standards. Interoperability. Free Software. Free License. Community.

e-PING: uses XML, browser compliant, they have metadata standards

Many organisations of the Brazilian Government use Java as a primary development platform. Remember, Java is important because its the first that allowed even Linux users to interact with government applications.

Brazilian Digital Television? Middle-ware responsible for the interactive process of digital TV also developed in Java. (Ginga is the name of the application).

In education? Enrolment is done via the Internet for universities. e-Proinfo is an e-learning project that has already trained 50k students.

Developing clusters and grids, with focus on high availability, load balancing, database replication, distributed mass storage, and virtualization. The government is backing this, since 2006.

Ten Ways to Destroy Your Community

Note: these are live notes. It was a great talk, I’d rate it as excellent (and I’m not just saying that because Josh and I work in the same group at Sun). I’ll have to also comment on his thoughts and talk, in due time. MySQL, as an open source project, has a lot to learn.

Ten Ways to Destroy Your Community
A How-To Guide
Josh Berkus, Community Guy

Part 1: The Evil of Communities

  • you may attract and will be unable to get rid off a community
  • they mess up your marketing plans, because the community goes out and does its own marketing and PR and distributes your software in places you didn’t expect to
  • they also mess up your product plans, because they contribute to code and features to your project, with unexpected innovation!
  • communities are never satisfied by any amount of quality and keep wanting to improve it – if you can’t make it better fast enough, they sometimes do it on their own!
  • you have to re-define your partner and customer relationships… people who were your customers start contributing to your project, sort of making them partners… “confuse your salespeople” :)
  • the worst part about having a community, is that they require to you communicate constantly (and who has time for that?). Emails, chat channels, web forums, you get constant pestering

10 Ways to Destroy (The Berkus Plan, Patent Pending!)

1. Difficult Tools

  • weird build systems
  • proprietary version control systems
  • limited license issue trackers
  • single-platform conferencing software
  • unusual and flaky CMS

This will limit attracting new community, and eventually people will get frustrated with the tools and go away.

2. Poisonous people
Maximise the damage they do – argue with them at length! So if people give you problems, continue feeding the trolls. Then denounce them venomously, and finally ban them. Josh then goes into a funny way of making use of poisonous people, which eventually leaves your team and the troll(s).

3. No documentation
Don’t document the code, build methods, submission process, release process, install it.

4. Closed-Door Meetings
Short notice online meetings are good. Telephone meetings are even better, because of timezones and limited conference lines. Meet in person, in your secure office, is the best way! (even if you dial in on a conference line so that others can here). People that are most involved will leave your project right away.

5. Legalese, legalese, legalese
The longer and more complex the better! Hate and fear of attorneys help drive people away from your open source project. Contributor agreements that are long/complicated, with unclear implications are particularly good. Website content licensing, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) [European developers usually never sign an NDA], trademark licensing terms (name and logo of your project… good way to dissuade people). Used properly, you can use legalese to keep out developers!

Bonus: change the legalese every couple of months without informing folk!

6. Bad liaison
A bad liaison/community manager is someone reclusive (least social, hates answering email, unplugs phone regularly, etc.). Also, someone with no time works very well. They’ll spend a few weeks, but pretty soon they’ll give up, and if you’re really lucky they’ll be snappy and make bad comments to the community!

Assigning someone with no authority also helps. As a community manager, you have no chain of command, and you just get to deliver bad news (we decide, and you just say something). That person usually leaves your company, and becomes a poisonous person, and its a win-win.

Someone unfamiliar with the technology also helps. An open source Java project, getting a PHP programmer, is the best person for you :)

Having no liaison also helps. Refer to the project liaison, but have no one!

7. Governance obfuscation
A good model for this is none other than the UN (He has a slide on the UNDP).

Get your legal team to write a governance document. Like they’re dealing with a hostile outsider. You’ll be impressed what they come up with!

Three principles:
1. Decision making and elections should be extremely complex and lengthy
2. Make it unclear what powers community officials and communities actually have
3. Make governance rules nearly impossible to change

8. Screw around with licenses
Licenses loosely translate to Identity. You’re not just a Linux contributor but a GPL person… You’re not just a PostgreSQL contributor but a BSD person…

9. No outside committers
I. No matter how much code outsiders write, only employees get to be committers. This is a surefire way to annoy contributors eventually.
II. If they ask why they’re not being able to commit, just be evasive! Talk about needing a mentor, decision not made yet, etc…
III. Make sure there are no written rules on who gets to be a committer, or that the criteria are impossible to fulfil.
IV. Bonus: promote an employee who doesn’t code to committer! Most will get disgruntled by this and go away and they’re not your problem anymore.

10. Be silent
He demonstrates out live, by giving him a minute… what silence really is. Just do nothing, be really silent.


How does Sun score?
All of these techniques have been successfully employed at open source projects at Sun and elsewhere. He gave this talk at a Sun internal event and people came up to him asking if they were talking about their project! Sun is scoring pretty well, but not necessarily any better than other corporations.

I missed the question, but the answer was: If you are fast and clear about explaining mistakes, communities tend to be forgiving.

Examples of a successful community?, and the Linux kernel community.

What about using forking to destroy community?

Combines poisonous people and playing with licenses. It fragments the outside community as people have no idea which to use. You can’t plan a fork (as it requires a lot of motivation to do the fork – finding people with that level of commitment and masochism is hard). Keep your poisonous people around and encourage them (poisonous people who are also code writers), then you sort of foster their image in the community by giving them a voice, and if you do something to really mess with the community’s mind (say a change of license), then the poisonous person will take the project and fork it.

The other way of forking, is to take a legitimate outside developer, build them up, and then after they have become a major developer, abruptly lock them out. The danger here is that they might not fork the project, and change the project back…

How do you prevent companies from supporting your project? Because this also means more developers will come to your project. And these companies are now selling services around your product.

Monkeying around with licensing. Then you change the commercial services around that. The second thing to prevent ISVs, is to play around with trademark rules, and lots of legalese. Prevent them to get code into your project, that should help too.