Intel Linux event. Beautiful place, the Columbia River, in a wet, mossy damp sort of way :)
February 2007 Archives
FOSDEM was fun. Managed to make it to SFO in one piece for the JCP F2F meeting. Was lucky and got to experience the new business cabin for AA. My vote? Go back to the old way. There was more room per person...
FOSDEM. Get to see all my Sun friends, and open/free Java friends. I'm looking forward to it.
I'm happy to note that two of my proposals for JavaOne have been accepted (they were accepted in some "early selection" thingy that Sun did, but today the regular mailings went out, so I figure I can mention now).
The first will be a talk on - surprise - Apache Harmony with my fellow Harmonizer Tim Ellison of IBM. The second is the "Java Technology Libre Panel", setup by my dangerous friend Tom Marble from Sun. I'm honored to be on this one with Mark Wielaard from GNU Classpath, Tom Tromey from GCJ, Dalibor "Dance to Feedback" Topic from Kaffe and of course Tom himself, the newly appointed OpenJDK Ambassador.
I want to say "thanks" to Sun here. For various reasons, I'm not Sun's favorite person these days, and I'm glad that the issues that make me unpopular were kept separate from JavaOne (one of my favorite conferences, truth be told...). I'm still having trouble grokking why Sun put both sessions I'm involved in on their first brochure, as noted by Simon, and as a physicist, I should understand the inner workings of the sun, but I don't :)
I thought I understood Sun's OSS strategy. Create closely-held, managed communities around open source codebases (i.e. NetBeans, OpenJDK, OpenSolaris, Glassfish), allow partners and customers into the creation process, and service them where and when they need it. Makes perfect sense to me. Jonathan Schwartz is reported to have stated in 2005 that "Everything that Sun produces will be open source and free." Great. As I said, makes sense.
I figured that the obvious outlier, StarOffice, is simply an anachronism that will be brought over time in conformance with this strategy, as business considerations allow. Also makes sense.
But then I see things like the new, very cool ODF plug-in for MSFT Word. (Start here , click on the "Click here" to take you to it, and read more about the background here and other places.) It's not open source. Just to be sure, I read the terms of the license (but didn't agree, because as the license defines itself as Confidential Information, I couldn't write about it if I did...), and yes, this is a proprietary license.
To be clear, I think that it's fine for Sun to do this - they made the investment in creating the software, and it's theirs to license as they see fit (which appears philosophically orthogonal to their recent embrace of all things GPL, but hey, we know they had other reasons for that...). But as the world's leading purveyor of alternative-to-MSFT office suites via StarOffice and OpenOffice.org, I'd have thought that letting this beastie out in the wild would be in line with their OSS strategy. Curious...
One outsmarted a pistol-weilding hijacker yesterday, and in 1998, the pilot of another hijacked Air Mauritania plane overpowered his hijacker.
My mac corrupted it's disk wednesday morning while at a SOA conference in NYC. In the snow. (Uphill, both ways. Without shoes. Barefoot. Feet? You had feet?) Thankfully, I also carry a Thinkpad running XP... Who am I kidding - it was a disaster.
It happened when the mac overheated - it closed it's lid, put it in the bag at the Starbucks before going to a meeting earlier that morning, and when I pulled it out, it was still on, very hot, fans madly clacking and screaming. It was still running (try that w/ the Thinkpad and see new and interesting BSODs). However, both CPU cores were pegged and the machine was sluggish. I did initiate a shutdown, and when it seemed to hang on the way down, I shut it down hard. Big mistake. Next time booting I saw the dreaded "file-folder w/ question mark" icon, which means both "system unable to find bootable operating system image" as well as "you're *beep*ed" (this is a family-friendly blog..)
So, beep-ed I was. I called Apple, made an appointment at the "Genius Bar" at the 5th Avenue Apple Store, and at noon, caught a cab and got up there. (Amazing how easy it is to catch a cab in NYC during snow storms....) The "genius" told me that yep, I was beep-ed. He was happy to reformat the drive for me. Given I've been a subscriber to the "faith-based computing" paradigm lately (aka no backups), that wasn't going to happen except as a last resort (after forensic data recovery, for example, although I hadn't quite worked out how to explain *that* on my expense report...). He was then happy to sell me DiskWarrior, set me up at the end of the bar with power, and wished me luck. He also let me take out my Thinkpad and use that for email while waiting for DiskWarrier to boot and do it's stuff (45 min!) but only on the condition I kept the mac in full view at all times.
Magically, DiskKeeper was able to rebuild the directory tree, with a loss of only a few OS files (resulting in an unbootable system, of course). I figured I was safe, and left the Temple of Steve, and went back to the SOA conference, and then home to continue the work. By the way, the 5th Ave Temple of Steve (59th and 5th) is simply stunning :
You walk in the front of the cube and down a circular staircase to the big store floor. If you are in NYC, it's worth a look if you find this sort of thing interesting. (The one in SOHO is nice too...)
Anyway, that night I bought a 260G LaCie firewire drive ("designed by F.A. Porsche" who I assume is a specialist in simple square metal boxes with a mirrored front), and backed up the entire laptop hard disk. I tried to fool the OS X installation disk to simply upgrade and archive OSX, saving my user prefs, but due to disk space limits and damage to the OS, it didn't work. Yesterday morning, I did a full wipe of the drive, fresh OS install, created a new personal account, and then replaced my home directory with that from the LaCie backup.
I'm amazed how much was restored. The only things missing that I've discovered so far is a driver for Parallels (I simply need to re-install), my license key for Keynote, and I'm guessing my license key for QT Pro, and my QT MPEG-2 playback component, all of which I can get back from the online Apple Store w/o a hassle. My ControlPanel enhancements (like Growl) all came over w/ that home directory copy. It's utterly amazing. As far as I can tell, there's been no loss. I hadn't saved two OmniOutliner documents (I use it for todo list management and time tracking), and it was able to recover from its own periodic background saves.
Oh, and one more thing :) This experience validated my decision last year to go "all in" with IMAP (hosted by Tuffmail). While doing the restore yesterday (which took a while), I was able to pick up another Thinkpad running Ubuntu, fire up Thunderbird, and see all my mail, and all my archives. No interruption. No loss. And full confidence that any email work I did on that thinkpad would be reflected on the Mac once I got back up. If you tend to be multi-client, or don't backup like you should :) consider IMAP. Good support on Thunderbird (so you can use the same client on Windows, Linux and OS X, and the OS X Mail.app has good support as well (that's what I use, for aesthetic reasons...)
My friend Tom Marble wrote this nice post thanking Apache for some of the projects that Sun uses in it's Glassfish and NetBeans projects. Tom's a classy guy. He's also a dangerous guy, a three-stripe red belt in Tae Kwon Do. He's standing for his black belt this summer, so if you aren't paying attention to what I just wrote, or are and still intend to pick a fight with Tom, do it before then, because then his hands will be registered weapons.
And Tom, I'm only brusque because I care :)
A few days ago, for reasons I can't explain in retrospect, I posted this asking the FSF to fix their license page. A commenter helpfully suggested that I simply send the webmaster at FSF a note. I did today, and a kind soul from the FSF just wrote to me to tell me it's fixed, and it is. Thanks FSF :)
Yesterday, I noticed a funny hole in Sun's Java SE license in that users aren't permitted to use it on a laptop computer.
Today, a friend of mine pointed out another funny aspect and ambiguity of the license, again, in the definition of "Program" :
"Programs" mean Java applets and applications intended to run on the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) on Java-enabled general purpose desktop computers and servers.
Who's intention? If I write a program that I intend to be run on Java ME - IOW, uses a subset of SE, but still would run on SE, can I run it on Java SE 6? What about if I group the object of intention to be :
"on the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) on Java-enabled general purpose desktop computers and servers"
So if I give you a program that I intended to be run on general purpose desktops running Java SE, could you therefore also run it on an embedded system (say you put that same desktop computer into a kiosk to give information at an airport) using Sun's software? Seems like you can.
I wonder what the intended (no pun) purpose of this phrase really is and why? Sun?
I just noticed this when doing a touch of research trying to figure out if this is legal (it doesn't appear to be..). Sun's Java SE 6 is only licensed for use on general-purpose desktops and servers. Apparently, laptop use of Java SE 6 is verboten, although I'd bet that you can negotiate a special license with Sun..
The Java SE 6 license says
Sun grants you a non-exclusive, non-transferable, limited license without license fees to reproduce and use internally Software complete and unmodified for the sole purpose of running Programs.
and then defines "Programs" as such :
"Programs" mean Java applets and applications intended to run on the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) on Java-enabled general purpose desktop computers and servers.
Maybe if you put your laptop down on the desk it's ok?
And to think, people wonder why we're working on Apache Harmony :)
Anyway, I was impressed to see that IDEA will have a RubyOnRails plug-in soon. I can't remember if I blogged about this before, but I've always thought that this was the basic strategy Sun had in mind for NetBeans when they hired the two JRuby guys - get good Ruby support in NetBeans, and then when/if RoR users need to integrate with existing Java systems, or need the features of Java EE, they are already working in an environment they are at home in - a page from MSFTs playbook.
Anyway, this is cool - another example of how JetBrains (the maker of IDEA) keeps a laser-sharp focus on the end developer. When I lived in IDEs 12 hours a day (I've been an IDEA user since v2.x) I always thought they were a leader in the space. Good to see they still have 'it'...
There are a couple of interesting bits in Ed Burnette's blog on ZDNet. First, of course Sun's reasons for embracing the GPL aren't "as pure as you think". Sun is a publicly-traded company, is allegedly ;) run for profit, and Jonathan Schwartz is a smart guy - there is an agenda, and it serves Sun's business interests. This is normal and expected. It's hard to imagine why anyone would ever think otherwise.
Ed gets to the heart of the matter :
The ultimate goal is nothing short of replacing GNU/Linux with "GNU/Solaris".
Ya think? :) This has been my theory for a while. But I think Ed misses an important point in the next paragraph. It wasn't "suspicion" that kept the "thought leaders" away from OpenSolaris. I think it was two things - first, the license was declared to be incompatible with the GPL by the FSF. Second, the OpenSolaris project doesn't have it's own distro. You can choose one of two quasi-open source distros from Sun (Solaris Express, Solaris Express Community Edition), and elsewhere there are other variants, such as BeleniX, marTux, NexentaOS and SchilliX. This is all well and good, but I think that given how closely Sun is holding onto OpenSolaris, they'd be well served with an open source distro maintained by the OpenSolaris community.
As I said before, I think that it's a reasonable strategy to move OpenSolaris to GPLv3 to try to take advantage of the rift that may happen if the Linux kernel stays on GPLv2, and let "Solaris/GNU" take on "Linux/GNU" on a level license playingfield. However, I think that Jonathan's and Rich's attempt to get this to happen backfired this week, and it will be interesting to see what happens going forward.
There's one more thing that deserves a comment. In the next paragraph, Ed says something that I think needs to be clarified :
By contrast, Sun's decision to release Java under the GPL (v2) was warmly received, except for those parties such as IBM and the Apache Foundation who would have preferred a more permissive license such as ASF (Apache), EPL (Eclipse), or BSD.
The Apache Software Foundation made no statements regarding the license Sun chose for their implementation of Java SE. The ASF has it's own open source Java SE project, Apache Harmony, that predates Sun's announcement of OpenJDK by a year, and will probably be 3 years old before Sun actually gets OpenJDK operationally off the ground. But the ASF doesn't really care what license people use for their own intellectual property. Now, it would have been nice if Sun chose a license that wasn't known to be incompatible with the Apache License that we use in Harmony (FD, I'm the PMC Chair of Harmony), but it was their choice to make, and they made it. Having another open/free Java implementation is good. Period.
While RMS is free to claim that the Apache License isn't compatible with the GPL, I wish the FSF would at least call it by it's right name. It's the "Apache License", not the "Apache Software License". (And if you get around to fix it, would you consider putting the list into alphabetical order? Please?)
I've been beta testing Joost (neé The Venice Project) now for some time, but only on Windows. The Windows experience was pretty funny, and was a good illustration why I simply can't stand the platform - there were endless problems caused by subtle differences in video drivers, the cure (upgrading) being worse than the disease. For example, after upgrading to the MSFT-recommended driver on a 1 year old ThinkPad T43, the machine would never come back from sleep. Just BSOD.
Anyway, today I got a copy for the Mac. Naturally, it just worked. And it was really nice.
Sun has pre-announced an ODF plug-in for MSFT Word. This is cool. Apparently we can play with it later this month. Will it be open source? Seems like it's coming from StarOffice rather than the OpenOffice.org project (home of the ODF Toolkit Project). According to the PR, the plug-in will use OO.org to do the work - I wonder why they didn't use the toolkit?
I like the slickness of the Word UI and prefer it to OO.org (and on a mac, there is no OO.org, just the NeoOffice/j port, IIRC), but I resent the file format. Kudos, Sun. I'm looking forward to trying it.
Reading news via NewsFire, I noticed the following click-through ad :
Update : the ad seems to be gone. It said "100% Open Source", advertising the RH stack....
"Wow!" I thought - as a co-founder of Apache Geronimo and Apache Harmony, this has been a dream of mine for a while - a 100% open source application stack. That would be at least an OS, a Java runtime, and a J2EE appserver. Since this is RedHat, it's going to be RedHat Linux (open source), JBoss J2EE app server (open source), but after that, I'm stumped. It needs Java to fit between them. There are no Java compatible open source runtimes, and the only way that JBoss could claim to be J2EE is if it was tested on a Java compatible runtime. We're working on one in Apache Harmony and Sun is as well with OpenJDK, and there are piece-parts in GNU Classpath, Kaffe, GCJ. But nothing is ready yet. What are they using?
I filled in the form to download, but it's been a few days, and I haven't heard back yet. I'm curious...
But one of the things that inspired me to help get Apache Harmony going was Mono. Sure, I think it's an IP trainwreck waiting to happen, at least for users that don't purchase protection from Novell (the Java ecosystem protects compatible implementations from having to license necessary IP from a single actor, right?), but the fact that it's getting used in all sorts of interesting places was inspirational.
In the last two years, it's just gotten better for Mono :
Go, Mono, go! It's good to have something to chase :)
On Tuesday, Miguel de Icaza wrote a defense of OOOOOXML, Microsoft's "open" office file format. I was really startled to see him doing this. Lets face it - a spec that has directives like "autoSpaceLikeWord95" which mandate emulating a proprietary, 10 year old, closed-source product is more like a product requirements doc than a spec.
However, as I really don't know a lot about either spec, nor am interested in wading too deeply in what is very complicated political theatre (hey, Bob Sutor, when will you blog about the ODF Tools project at OpenOffice.org?), there was one thing that I'd like to talk about.
Miguel argues that in the area of formulas and functions for spreadsheets, the ODF spec is incomplete :
Depending on how you count, ODF has 4 to 10 pages devoted to it. There is no way you could build a spreadsheet software based on this specification.
I'm betting he's right. That in a vacuum, with just that spec, you don't have a hope of building a complete, inter-operative implementation. He reports MSFT took over 300 pages to describe that area, and if it contains silliness comparable to "autoSpaceLikeWord95", it's probably not enough either.
However, we don't work in vacuums. Good specs should have reference implementations (RI) that you can examine for correct behavior - for example, it's impossible to implement Java SE without testing what he RI does, because like all specs, there is vagueness and incompleteness. Even better, having an RI or other implementation in open source means you can not only see how the code should behave, but give some insight into how or why it behaves that way. As far as I can tell, there are 3 open source implementations to look at for ODF (OO.org, GNumeric, KSpread) and one proprietary one, Lotus Workplace. What are your choices for OOOOOOXML? A $400 closed-source product from MSFT that probably restricts how you can use the software in it's EULA?