Posts filed under ‘Open Source’
This appeared in Network World:
… According to this report from Seculert Research, the makers of Citadel, a variant of the Zeus Trojan are using open source models to hone their code and make the Trojan more dangerous.
Not only open source, but the Citadel creators are also deploying it from a SaaS model and using a CRM type of system with forums and message board to communicate with the consumers using the Trojan to commit criminal activity. You have to hand it to these guys, they are using cutting edge techniques to make their product better. Too bad they don’t put this much effort into a legitimate business, but then again they probably wouldn’t make as much money.
Those who have followed this blog over the years or who know me in person, know that I personally believe that freedom preserving software, otherwise known as "free software", or freedom-respecting software, otherwise known as "open source", should be the only type of applications used in government agencies, including taxpayer-funded schools. I believe that the advantages in terms of being able to see what the software actually does and to legally change it if desired are so important that it far outweighs "well this is what they are using in private industry" factor.
Likewise, I think that the "many eyes makes all bugs shallow" aspect of open source would really help in enhanced security environments. I do note that in order to partake of these advantages, said organizations need to have people who are can read and write computer code. That is probably not the case at this time, although I do know of a higher education institution whose technology instructors adopted Moodle in place of Blackboard, and actually contributed back code to the project.
I just find it funny that schoolkids are learning where to click on the "ribbon" toolbar to find a particular function in a particular proprietary office suite, knowledge that will be obsolete within a couple of years when software versions change. Yet, the bad guys have gotten past protecting their "supersekrit™ IP" and are using open source to build, improve, and develop their malware.
As Against Monopoly points out:
If you want to know what the world would be like without IP: look at the criminal world where they can’t easily sue each other for patent and/or copyright violation. Is there software innovation in that world? The virus producers are innovating faster than the anti-virus vendors.
Isn’t it funny how flimsy the arguments for government-enforced monopolies like patents and copyrights begin to fall apart when they are closely examined? I believe we need to make the case, loudly and publicly, that "intellectual property" hinders both innovation and the invention / creation of previously unknown products and services. We need to make the case to politicians, so that they will be less eager to pass the latest "kill the Internet to protect corporate IP" bill. We need to make our case to the public, via the Internet and the news media. And we need to make our case to the artists, writers, authors, composers, and performers that organizations like the RIAA and MPAA prey upon (all the while telling them that they’d make no money without the organizations and their copyright maximalism). We need to counter their claims that stronger copyright and patent enforcement increases the number of domestic jobs with anecdotes and studies that show the opposite.
I am in mid-America right on Independence Day. Some Californians would think negatively about this. I find that Kansas and its nearby states are full of people who are much like the people in LoCal (both areas lack the arrogant self-righteousness that is often found in “coasties” and especially in NorCal residents). In either place, people are not aware of the extent to which corporations have gained control over our lives and our political processes. Further, they lack awareness of just how important copyrights, patents, and proprietary software are to the corporate puppetmasters who are rapidly enslaving us.
Let me make it clear. The new corporate slave-masters are not concerned about your sex (“plumbing”) or gender (how you perceive yourself), or ancestry or ethnic background, except to the extent that they can use that to deprive you of legal leverage. Thanks to a recent court ruling, these things matter even less. Boilerplate language that deprives you of the ability to use the legal system again powerful corporations is now inviolable.
In this time, it is even more important to help awaken US-ians to the need to sacrifice if necessary, but by all means start to deprive the copyright cartels, mobile telephone network operators, cable television operators, broadcasters, and large proprietary software companies of financial resources. I intend to become more active here and elsewhere with long-form writings to inform, persuade, and propel people to use freedom-respecting / freedom-preserving software (open source / free software) to produce their own original, remixable media.
Finally, let us no longer be captivated by the conjoined twin political parties (Republican & Democratic parties). Neither one is for you and I instead of for-profit & non-profit organizations. Neither one is on our side.
Our mission is to facilitate the evolution of the OpenOffice.org Community into a new open, independent, and meritocratic organizational structure within the next few months. An independent Foundation is a better match to the values of our contributors, users, and supporters, and will enable a more effective, efficient, transparent, and inclusive Community. We will protect past investments by building on the solid achievements of our first decade, encourage wide participation in the Community, and co-ordinate activity across the Community.
The Document Foundation is producing LibreOffice as the next evolution in the OpenOffice.org story. There have been some rumblings for quite a while about Sun’s (now Oracle’s) outsize role in OpenOffice. Oracle, of course, is more energetic about its pursuit of higher earnings than Sun was. Some would argue that Oracle is less friendly toward freedom-preserving software (“free / open source software”), and point to its activities around OpenSolaris and Java as examples of this.
I don’t see LibreOffice as a backlash against Oracle, and I wouldn’t want it to be spun that way. It is time for such an important FPS (freedom-preserving software) application as OpenOffice to have a vendor-independent foundation at the helm. Whether Oracle, Sun, IBM, or even Microsoft was the vendor, I’d still believe this is a timely thing.
The current version of LibreOffice is marked as beta, not for daily, real-world use. Being that it is primarily just the most-current version of OpenOffice code with some changes to remove names and trademarks, it should be okay. Still, I don’t generally run beta software, and I’m not advising that anyone else does either.
This is an opportunity for a big forward step. I hope that Oracle will recognize this and that it will assist The Document Foundation with this project–in particular, by transferring any needed “IP” to the foundation and by committing OpenOffice.org to follow the lead of LibreOffice–so that both they and everyone else can share in the rewards of having an independent foundation in control.
In the meantime, let us continue to find those few use cases where OpenOffice is less suited for the task at hand than the leading proprietary office applications suite. We can then help the Document Foundation to prioritize those areas. The important thing about non-profit community foundations is that they require active participation by members of the community. I intend to be there. How about you?
Hat tip: Roy Schestowitz’ Techrights.org blog.
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After a long review, the EU approved of Oracle’s purchase of Sun. So now it is consumated. Jonathan Schwartz, the Sun CEO, announced his resignation on Twitter.
Oracle has a reputation for being very bottom-line oriented with their businesses. While that is a good thing, in the case of their acquisition of Sun, it caused a lot of questions.
MySQL: Just as Oracle’s namesake relational database management system is the top product in the commercial RDBMS space, MySQL is the top product in the open source RDBMS space. There was justifiable concern that Oracle might use its control over MySQL to eliminate a lot of lower-priced sales. In the process of obtaining approval, Oracle pledged to continue to maintain MySQL’s database products under the GPLv2/commercial plan.
It has seemed that Oracle was pursuing MySQL for years. I recall when Oracle bought Sleepycat, makers of the Berkeley DB. BDB was, at that time, one of two ACID-compliant storage engines that MySQL used. Then, Oracle bought the company behind the InnoDB storage engine, which was the other ACID-compliant storage engine. So the fear that Oracle might shut MySQL down, change its licensing, or slow development was justified.
Java: Many of Oracle’s database features are built around Java. So continued development of Java is pretty well assured. However, seeing that another major Java user is the company behind RDBMS competitor DB2, there could be some changes that are optimized for Oracle’s own products.
OpenOffice.org: I use OpenOffice.org (OOo), KOffice, and AbiWord, all of which have some level of ODF support. (I’m doing some interoperability trials with the standard versions found in Xubuntu and Linux Mint. I have some suggestions for improvement that I hope to write up soon.) OOo is the reference implementation, so I am very interested.
At this time, at least, Oracle intends to keep OOo in active development. This is very good news. But in the interest of motivating Oracle to stick with it, I recommend we try and buy their commercial version, StarOffice, if you can.
Sun hardware: This is where Sun used to make most of its money. In the last few years, I don’t think their sales have been as high. In the x86/AMD64 server market, there are plenty of relatively low-priced competitors (including HP and Dell). Meanwhile, I’m guessing that fewer companies were willing to consider their SPARC hardware. As far as their operating system sales went, I think Solaris was losing ground to both Linux and Windows servers. I believe their biggest market was the financial industry giants, and that market isn’t buying right now.
Sun employees: In any big merger, some employees leave or are left. This one is no exception. It will take some time to find out who is really going to stay for a while. This is going to be good news to competitors of the former Sun Microsystems. It will make some of the industry’s best workers available for hire. So far, it seems that Oracle is losing some of the most well-known dynamic language people.
What does the future hold? If I knew that, I’d buy a lottery ticket.
It is all in your head: the plot, the characters, the locations, and even the scenes, but for some reason, staring at the blank page and blinking cursor makes you freeze. You like the idea of writing a book but cannot imagine actually completing it. If that feeling sounds familiar, then this might be the right article for you. Even if you have written a book and have it all ready to go, you may intend to self-publish it, start your own publishing company, send it to an editor, or just layout your book so you can see how it looks.
There is a long list of reasons why you might need to prepare an OpenOffice.org document in book form, and once you have learned how to do it, you will have a useful skill that you or people you know may need in the future. You can use this method for both print publications and e-books
Be sure to read the article, the comments, and the next twp parts of the article. One of the things this covers is the file format to use (export to PDF). The PDF export options have improved for OpenOffice.org (OOo) 3.0. I was recently working on a computer that had version 2.4.1 and found myself surprised at how few options there used to be.
Now that Microsoft officially considers OOo to be a competitor, we need to show off the additional capabilities of the software. First up, the ease in setting up and using styles, which makes longer documents and documents which will be subject to extensive editing easier to deal with. Native use of the vendor-neutral ODF file formats is another plus. As other products also implement this format (and improve their implementations so they interoperate), it will be less and less necessary to buy any specific vendor’s products in order to communicate. (Could this account for the way ODF was implemented in MS Office 2007 SP2?)
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Andy Updegrove wrote some advice in December that I believe should be on the top of the pile.
To this, I would add just this:
- OPEN Standards—Where there is an open technology standard, it should be used in preference to any closed, proprietary protocol or format. There should not be any “this file requires XYZ software” or “this site requires XYZ browser or operating system”. If it is paid for the taxpayers, it should be available in open protocols / formats which can be accessed with various implementations on various operating systems.
- OPEN Source—Because purchasing software is "taking" funds from everyone to deliver to a company, there should be an automatic and enforceable preference for products which provide the most benefit to everyone, without unduly restricting the ability of taxpayers to access/modify/distribute the source of the software they paid for.
- OPEN exposure—there are always going to be some things that someone in an agency wants to conceal and lock up. More often than not, it turns out that it is something that should have been brought into the open all along. It is important that our government be open with us whenever it can. In many cases, data that shouldn’t be exposed also shouldn’t have been collected to begin with. We should make agencies justify what they collect by revealing it to everyone.
By emphasizing the OPEN, along with the things Andy wrote about, we have a chance to reboot our technology advancement and benefit the whole country’s citizenship.
Finally, emphasize competition in everything we buy or build. Rather than using all one brand of software, we should be using multiple brands that all follow the same open standards. Rather than using one brand of hardware, we once again should be using multiple brands that all follow the same open standards. Where vendors refuse to provide that, use taxpayer funds to build something that does and then make it available to all of us.