Entries from February 2009 ↓

451 CAOS Links – 2009.02.27

Microsoft launches a Linux-related patent lawsuit against TomTom. UK government takes a more proactive stance on open source. Novell’s Linux business disappoints. Sourcefire’s revenue grows 35%. Business models. Community engagement strategies. Humanoid robots. And more.

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Don’t Panic
Needless to say the big news of the week was the revalation by Todd Bishop that Microsoft was suing TomTom for patent infringement, including patents related to TomTom’s use of the Linux kernel. Cnet quickly reported that the suit was specific to TomTom but Microsoft’s lawyer wouldn’t speculate on more Linux suits, prompting Ars Technica, which pointed out that the suit related to FAT patents, to speculate that it could open Pandora’s Box with regards to more suits against Linux providers. Glun Moody was not alone in feeling that the suit was a cunning ploy by Microsoft to set a precedent for further action.

On the other side of the fence, however, Matt Asay rejected the idea that the TomTom suit was an opening salvo in a Linux war, while Andy Updegrove also expressed his doubts. My CAOS colleague Jay Lyman pointed out that the suit involves ‘the Linux kernel as implemented by TomTom,’ which is very different from ‘the Linux kernel’ when we’re talking software code and patent infringement suits.

Elsewhere TomTom rejected all of MS’ patent claims and said it would “vigorous defend” itself, Larry Augustin suggested that it might be an idea for open source vendors to “get the FAT out”. Stephen Walli insisted that the lawsuit is about the mobile Internet rather than Linux and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols speculated that Microsoft might actually be trying to force TomTom to accept an acquisition offer. The Linux Foundation recommended that everyone should calm down, hope for the best, and plan for the worst – declaring itself ready to mount a Linux defense, should the need arise.

As it happened the TomTom lawsuit came in a week that had seen positive moves from Microsoft in relation to open source. Just hours earlier Matt Asay had reported comments from Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business that ‘At some point, almost all our product(s) will have open source in (them)’. Meanwhile The Register reported that Microsoft was planning to woo open source developers with Visual Studio 2010.

If you are having trouble reconciling Microsoft’s stance on open source, Matt Asay had earlier speculated on the issues behind Microsoft’s open-source jitters.

UK government says yes to open source
In any other week the UK government’s action plan on “Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use”, including a new policy encouraging more open source adoption, would have taken top-billing. You can read our take on the policy and the early responses to it here, while the public page for online debate about the action plan is here.

Financial results
Novell reported revenue of $215m in Q1, down from $231m. $35m came from from Linux Platform Products, up 24%, however Ron Hovsepian declared that the Linux business had not met expectations. Novell CFO Dana Russell noted that Linux invoicing was $23 million, down 42% and that the reason for that was that Novell did not sign any large deals, “many of which have been historically fulfilled by Microsoft certificates.”

Elsewhere SourceForge’s revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2009 grew 9% to $23.9m, while Sourcefire’s full year 2008 revenue grew 35% to a record $76m. 451 Group clients can read our take on the results here.

Also Day Software announced revenue growth and a return to profitability excluding charges.

Business models

The business model debate rumbled on with Tarus Balog sharing his thoughts on why Open Core will fail and JasperSoft CEO Brian Gentile maintaining that Open Core model offers the best opportunity for community and commercial success. Meanwhile Stephen O’Grady asked whether Google is an open source vendor, while OSSwatch published an article on the business of open source written by The Silent Penguin.

Community engagement strategies

Meanwhile Roberto Galoppini turned the conversation in the direction of vendor-community relationships, which was also a topic covered by Ars Technica in Bridging the gap between companies and communities for OSS.

Best of the rest

# Novell announced a collaboration with VMware to build SUSE Linux Enterprise appliances on VMware ESX.

# HP and Sun Microsystems signed a multi-year partnership agreement for Solaris on HP ProLiant servers.

# Versata Software acquired AlterPoint.

# Zack Urlocker presented some sound advice for open source vendors of all persuasions from the pen source panel at the Accel symposium.

# Sun’s Scott McNealy told ComputerWorld some federal officials see open source as ‘anti-capitalist’. This is an issue that has cropped up a couple of times recently and I intend to address properly at some point.

# Peter Yared offered some rare praise for Sun’s open source software strategy.

# The 451’s Dennis Callaghan speculated that new MuleSource CEO Greg Schott should bring MuleSource and SpringSource closer.

# Wazi published “Best Practices for Creating an Open Source Policy”, written by Stormy Peters.

# Cisco Goes Deep for Linux and Open Source, reported Sean Michael Kerner at Internetnews.com.

# Black Duck highlighted the growth of open source mobile projects.

# Palamida’s Vulnerability Database Library 2.0 includes vulnerability alerts against 34,621 open source project releases.

# Appcelerator expanded Titanium capabilities with Linux support, amongst other things.

# Japanese robot engineer Tomomasa Sato called for the use of open source to kick-start the mass production of humanoid robots.

Microsoft suing TomTom, not Linux, not open source

One might have thought Microsoft was back rattling the patented software sabres against Linux and open source this week, reading some of the recent reports regarding Redmond’s patent infringement suit against automotive navigation and GPS player TomTom. However, upon further review, it seems that Microsoft is making a point to say that these suits are not aimed at the Linux OS or open source. In response to my own query, the company offered this:

First, to answer your earlier question on how the suit with TomTom involves the Linux Operating System, three of the infringed patents read on the Linux kernel as implemented by TomTom. However, open source software is not the focal point of this action. The case against TomTom, a global commercial manufacturer and seller of proprietary embedded hardware devices, involves infringement of Microsoft patents by TomTom devices that employ both proprietary and open source code. It is not unusual for companies to develop products based on a mix of proprietary and open source code; like every other company, they must take responsibility for ensuring that their systems do not infringe others’ patents. Licensing agreements are a useful means for ensuring mutual respect for IP and in fact, Microsoft has licensing agreements in place with many companies that run mixed source environments.

To be clear, this legal action is specific to TomTom’s implementation of the Linux kernel. Other companies that utilize Microsoft patents have licensed, and Microsoft is asking TomTom to do the same. This suit is simply a normal course of business; in taking this action, Microsoft is doing what any other technology company would do when faced by another party that infringes its IP rights.

To provide a bit more context regarding your question related to open source software, Microsoft respects and appreciates the important role that open source software plays in the industry, and Microsoft respects and appreciate the passion and the great contribution that open source developers make in the industry. This appreciation and respect is not inconsistent with Microsoft’s respect for intellectual property rights. Partnership with all technology companies, including those that adopt a mixed source model, must be built on mutual respect for IP rights, rights that we all rely upon for driving innovation and opportunity. The bottom line is that all industry players must play by the same rules.

The key phrase, which is repeated, is the suit involves ‘the Linux kernel as implemented by TomTom,’ which is very different from ‘the Linux kernel’ when we’re talking software code and patent infringement suits. While some usual suspicions are being raised, there are also some who generally agree this is not the first shot in a supposed war against Linux and open source.

Microsoft says the infringement case involves TomTom devices that use both proprietary and open source code (again, it is not that code, but TomTom’s implementation of it). Microsoft then goes on to explain the normalcy of mixing open source and proprietary software — true, particularly in embedded uses — and says ‘Microsoft respects and appreciates the important role that open source software plays in the industry … This appreciation and respect is not inconsistent with Microsoft’s respect for intellectual property rights.’ I would add that there is no mention of Linux or open source in some other reports on the matter, nor in Microsoft’s press release.

For those looking for signs that Microsoft has changed, I would hope this might serve as the proverbial coffee to wake up and smell. Microsoft is acknowledging the contributions and IP value of open source software and is going out of its way to make sure people don’t think it is making patent infringement claims over the actual Linux kernel. This certainly doesn’t mean that any kind of patent action or potential action, from anyone, against Linux or any other open source software is not a concern, but if anything, this suit seems to support the idea that Linux and other open source software should be viewed on the same level as proprietary software when it comes to IP validity and respect.

UK government takes positive steps to encourage open source adoption

The UK government has updated its policy on open source software, taking a more positive stance on encouraging the use of open source software for government IT systems and introducing an action plan that will ensure the theory is put into practice.

Just last month I criticised the Labour government for failing to act on its own research that showed open source could save the UK Government at least £600m per year, as well as the Conservative party for using open source to score points against the Labour party.

At first glance the new policy appears to be a progressive step that will actually provide positive action on leveling the playing field for the assessment of open source software, rather than paying lip service to it.

The new policy is contained within the Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use: Government Action Plan, launched by Minister for Digital Engagement, Tom Watson, and is both more expansive and more detailed than previous versions.

The 2004 policy states:

    • UK Government will consider OSS solutions alongside proprietary ones in IT procurements. Contracts will be awarded on a value for money basis.

    • UK Government will only use products for interoperability that support open standards and specifications in all future IT developments.

    • UK Government will seek to avoid lock-in to proprietary IT products and services.

    • UK Government will consider obtaining full rights to bespoke software code or customisations of COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) software it procures wherever this achieves best value for money.

    • Publicly funded R&D projects which aim to produce software outputs shall specify a proposed software exploitation route at the start of the project. At the completion of the project, the software shall be exploited either commercially or within an academic community or as OSS.

Whereas the 2009 policy states:

    Open Source Software
    1. The Government will actively and fairly consider open source solutions alongside proprietary ones in making procurement decisions,

    2. Procurement decisions will be made on the basis on the best value for money solution to the business requirement, taking account of total lifetime cost of ownership of the solution, including exit and transition costs, after ensuring that solutions fulfil minimum and essential capability, security, scalability, transferability, support and manageability requirements.

    3. The Government will expect those putting forward IT solutions to develop where necessary a suitable mix of open source and proprietary products to ensure that the best possible overall solution can be considered.

    4. Where there is no significant overall cost difference between open and non-open source products, open source will be selected on the basis of its additional inherent flexibility.

    Non–Open Source Software
    5. The Government will, wherever possible, avoid becoming locked in to proprietary software. In particular it will take exit, rebid and rebuild costs into account in procurement decisions and will require those proposing proprietary software to specify how exit would be achieved.

    6. Where non open source products need to be purchased, Government will expect licences to be available for all public sector use and for licences already purchased to be transferable within the public sector without further cost or limitation. The Government will where appropriate seek pan-government agreements with software suppliers which ensure that government is treated as a single entity for the purposes of volume discounts and transferability of licences.

    Open Standards
    7. The Government will use open standards in its procurement specifications and require solutions to comply with open standards. The Government will support the development of open standards and specifications.

    8. The Government will look to secure full rights to bespoke software code or customisations of commercial off the shelf products it procures, so as to enable straightforward re-use elsewhere in the public sector. Where appropriate, general purpose software developed for government will be released on an open source basis.

    9. Where the public sector already owns a system, design or architecture the Government will expect it to be reused and that commercial arrangements will recognise this. Where new development is proposed, suppliers will be required to warrant that they have not developed or produced something comparable, in whole or in part, for the public sector in the past, or where they have, to show how this is reflected in reduced costs, risks and timescale.

    10. When suppliers are proposing a third party product there should be full price transparency. If there is a pan–Government agreement there should be the option to source through this where doing so would maximise overall public sector value. The Government will expect to be charged only the cost the supplier incurs unless the supplier can clearly and transparently provide evidence of the additional value created.

If anyone is wondering why the UK government should want to take affirmative action on open source, and I’m sure some people are, the foreword by Tom Watson states:

    1. We want to ensure that we continue to use the best possible solutions for public services at the best value for money; and that we pay a fair price for what we have to buy.

    2. We want to share and re-use what the taxpayer has already purchased across the public sector – not just to avoid paying twice, but to reduce risks and to drive common, joined up solutions to the common needs of government.

    3. We want to encourage innovation and innovators – inside Government by encouraging open source thinking, and outside Government by helping to develop a vibrant market.

    4. We want to give leadership to the IT industry and to the wider economy to benefit from the information we generate and the software we develop in Government

Mainstream reaction to the new policy has been slow to emerge, although the following are worth a look:

Charles Arthur, The Guardian
Simon Phipps, Sun Microsystems
Alan Lord, The Open Learning Centre
Glyn Moody
OSS Watch

For wider reaction, the government has set up a public page to track the response to the new policy and action plan.

451 CAOS Links 2009.02.24

Citrix makes XenServer free, but not open source. REd Hat outlines virtualization strategy. Ingres debuts ECM Appliance. Ubuntu in the clouds. MuleSource appoints a new CEO. OpenLogic and OpenGear boast of their successes. And more.

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Virtual reality
Once again virtualization was at the top of the agenda this week as Citrix announced that XenServer is now free (as in beer). While XenServer is not open source it is based on the open source Xen hypervisor. The company also delivered Citrix Essentials for XenServer and Hyper-V, once again proving that sees its future is in closed source virtualization management. 451 Group clients can read our take on the Citrix announcements here.

Meanwhile Red Hat followed up its partnership with Microsoft with more virtualization news, outlining its hypervisor and virtualization products roadmap following its acquisition of Qumranet, as well as a number of partner certifications. CTO Brian Stevens also shed some light on the virtualization strategy.

More on open source business models

The discussion continued with Matt Asay and Tarus Balog before I delivered my thoughts on the matter. I previously mentioned that Carlo Daffara has been at the forefront in terms of examining open source business strategies and it was good to see Carlo start off his new blog with the first in a series on the dynamics of OSS adoption followed byfurther comments on my post.

Ubuntu says G’day to the cloud
Mark Shuttleworth introduced Karmic Koala, the next version of Ubuntu and the first to enable the deployment of Ubuntu in the cloud – specifically Amazon Web Services. Karmic Koala will also enable improved use of Eucalyptus, support for which will be introduced in Jaunty Jackalope. Speaking of which, that release will come with a new version of the Landscape remote management tool. As WorkswithU documented, Canonical plans to more aggressively promote Landscape in 2009.

# Following last week’s debate about corporate contributions, The Washington Times released a number of open source projects including a a source code repository manager and issue tracking application and a multi-media management application.

# Greg Schott was announced as new CEO of MuleSource.

# Ingres launched the Ingres Enterprise Content Management Appliance developed with Alfresco.

# Opengear reported record order bookings in the fourth quarter of 2008.

# Symbian Foundation director Lee Williams told Silicon.com “Android is not open. It’s a marketing label. It’s controlled by Google.”

# Optaros facilitated the integration of CMIS into the Drupal open source CMS in conjunction with Alfresco and Acquia.

# OpenLogic claimed 2x increase in enterprise customers in 2008 and more than 75 enterprise customers in total.

# The EC’s Open Source Observatory and Repository began offering web space and facilities for open source communities.

# Paglo introduced network management as a service.

# MIPS Technologies joined The Linux Foundation.

# XAware announced the availability of XAware 5.3.

# In an open letter to the openSUSE Community board members Pascal Bleser and Bryen Yunashko confirmed that some members of the openSUSE Community were laid off by Novell.

On open source business strategies (again)

I mentioned last week that the debate about open source business strategies had reared its head again thanks to posts by Dave Rosenberg and Michael Coté (twice) – not to mention Matt Asay and Tarus Balog.

While I am at risk of repeating myself, there are a couple of points I wanted to make.

In our report, Open Source is Not a Business Model, we noted that there are over 300 different theoretical combinations of development model, vendor licensing strategy and revenue trigger associated with open source business strategies and that the 114 vendors assessed were utilizing 88 different combinations.

I believe that in order to properly assess a company’s business model as it relates to open source it is necessary to examine its strategies in this level of detail. However. for the purposes of this debate it is possible to group the vendors together into three broad categories (and while it should perhaps go without saying I will say it anyway: I am generalising here):

Pure open source
These vendors use only open source software licenses and generate their revenue via services, support (both ad hoc and subscription-based), customisation, and training. The rejection of traditional licensing is based either on the philosophical position or because it suits the overall business goals (or a combination of the two).

Because start-up and development costs are low these vendors can quickly achieve break-even, although scaling the model is tough and revenue growth levels are likely to be below those delivered by traditional software licensing methods. Because of this many venture-backed vendors building open source support businesses have looked to hybrid models to deliver the returns they are looking for.

This does not mean that the pure open source model is broken or that it has failed, but it does mean that, for the most part, it is incompatible with venture capital investment strategies. (I have a great statistic that backs this up, but you’ll have to wait for the next CAOS report, due in April).

As Tarus Balog notes, “For those companies trying to make billions of dollars on software quickly… the only way to do that in today’s market is with the hybrid model where much of the revenue comes from closed software licenses.”

Hybrid open source/commercial licensing

Many vendors trying to build fast-growing businesses based around open source software have turned to commercial licensing, either via dual licensing strategies that see proprietary licenses used for ISV and SI partners, as well as wary corporate clients, or via the Open-Core approach, making additional services, features and functionality available to paying customers using SaaS or proprietary licensing.

As the underlying software is open source, I personally would consider these vendors to be “open source vendors” although I do also have a lot of sympathy with people like Tarus Balog who consider it a misuse of the term “open source” given that the software and services that drive revenue are traditionally licensed.

The term “Open-Core” has been widely adopted since being coined by Andrew Lampitt in August last year to describe the use of proprietary extensions around an open source core, not least since it enabled vendors to avoid terms such as “bait and switch”. However, one of the issues related to hybrid approaches is that vendors often talk up the benefits of open source licensing in delivering freedom from vendor lock-in while all the while the core enterprise features customers are paying for are delivered using the same proprietary licenses they are supposedly trying to avoid.

I do believe that the Open-Core vendors have the best intentions, and the model does effectively separate community users from commercial customers enabling vendors to focus on the needs of each. However, it also brings its own problems, such as balancing what functionality will be available in the enterprise or community versions, and means that the vendor does not enjoy the full benefit of open source lower development and sales costs. And it can be confusing.

The Open-Core approach is mostly (though not exclusively) used by vendors that dominate their own development communities. While this provides benefits in terms of controlling the direction of development and benefiting from the open source distribution model there are also risks involved with promoting and managing community development – or not. In fact, many of these companies employ the majority of the developers on the project, so they are actually missing out on many of the benefits of the open source development model (more eyeballs, lower costs etc).

Additionally, by providing revenue-generating features on top of open source code, Open-Core vendors are attempting to both disrupt their segment and profit from that disruption. I previously argued that “it is probably easier in the long-term to generate profit from adjacent proprietary products than it is to generate profit from proprietary features deployed on top of the commoditized product.”

While Open-Core is definitely the commercial open source strategy of the day and is effective in building the revenue growth required to fuel an exit strategy, I have my doubts as to whether it is sustainable in the long-term due to a combination of the issues noted above.

Embedded open source

I was recently asked to explain the difference between the terms Open-Core and Embedded Open Source as used in Open Source is Not a Business Model. I’m the first to admit that there is a fine line between the two and it isn’t always to distinguish, but essentially Open-Core sees proprietary extensions build on top of open source code, while Embedded sees open source code embedded in a larger proprietary product – be it hardware or software. Prime examples of the software approach are IBM’s use of Apache within WebSphere and Actuate’s use of BIRT within the Actuate 10 portfolio.

To my mind this is a cleaner distinction than the Open-Core approach and one that is more sustainable in the long-term. If a user wants the freedom and flexibility of the open source approach then BIRT is freely available, and Actuate will gladly sell you support services to help, but it is not out there trying to sell adoption of the open source approach in order to sell Actuate 10.

Likewise IBM’s support for Apache helped to disrupt its competitors in the web server market but IBM wasn’t trying to sell customers value-added Apache services – it was selling other products and services that made use of the web server.

As previously mentioned, just about every software vendor in the industry in benefiting to some extent from the use of open source software. The trick is to maximise the benefits while reducing the risks and in my opinion the embedded model does this better than the Open-Core approach.

One of the reasons for this is that it sees vendors engaging with existing development communities (such as Apache and Postgres) or starting vendor-based communities (such as Eclipse and Symbian) which enables them to benefit from lower development costs, shared resources, many eyeballs etc for non-differentiating features while focusing their attention on value-add features and functionality. This can be done in a vendor-owned open source project, but it is much easier to be part of an existing community.

What about Red Hat?
So where does Red Hat fit in to all this? Surely it disproves the contention that pure open source doesn’t scale, or that the hybrid model is the most appropriate for achieving exit-strategy revenue growth, or that embedding open source within proprietary products is the long-term future of commercial open source.

Well yes and no. The more you look at open source business strategies the more you realise that Red Hat is the exception rather than the rule. If you talk to any open source related vendor they will praise Red Hat’s pure open source strategy but how many of them are attempting to replicate it? Very few.

I believe the success of Red Hat’s strategy may be unique to the Linux distribution business based on a combination of complementary factors including: the fact that the company engages in both an existing developer communities (Linux kernel, GNU, et al) and its own (Fedora); the fact that the company’s products appeal both to technology-loving individuals and huge corporates; brand; customer services; good leadership; pioneering entrepreneurs; the impact of the dot com boom; and a clever licensing tactic that is the closest you can get to proprietary while remaining true to the GNU GPL.

Making money from open source

So how do you make money from open source? Support and services will get you so far, and for many vendors that is far enough to build a long-term sustainable business. Proprietary services and features will get you a lot further, and will provide the growth necessary to reward investors via a lucrative merger or acquisition (and potentially IPO although that’s largely unproven at this stage). In the longer-term my suspicion is that the vendor-dominated hybrid model will give way to the vendor community-dominated embedded approach.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2009.02.20

Topics for this podcast:

*Red Hat and Microsoft come together on virtualization
*New deals and models mean mobile Linux consolidation
*Sun shuffles its open source stack

iTunes or direct download (28:05, 6.6 MB)

451 CAOS Links 2009.02.20

Encouraging corporate contributions. How to make millions with open source. Or not. Red Hat and IBM celebrate 10 years of mutual appreciation. Nokia borrows €500m to invest in Symbian. And more.

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Encouraging corporate contributions
Reaction began to filter through later this week to the previously mentioned Forbes article on the “collaboration gap” between corporate open source users and contributors.

Matt Asay agreed with Forbes writer Dan Woods that the secret might lay in measuring the benefits of participation so that investors and stock analysts will begin to demand evidence of those benefits being achieved.

This brings to mind recent posts on here about open source citizenship and responsibility. Oracle, IBM and Sun already include open source within their corporate responsibility reports. How long before this is the norm?

Meanwhile Savio Rodrigues argued that corporate open source contribution policies are needed, noting that without them corporate developers are probably contributing code, but on their own time, so as not to risk upsetting the powers that be.

How to make millions with open source. Or not.
Dave Rosenberg resurrected the issue of open source revenue strategies with his post about pricing models and licensing for open source. In response to his question as to how vendors “provide more value for the dollar… in a way that makes a highly scalable, highly monetizable business” RedMonk’s Michael Coté responded with his thoughts on open source business strategies.

Coté hit the nail on the head, I think, with his comment that “the issue is not if this is good, bad, open, or closed source. Rather, the question is how much revenue any given company can get from such a service” and also that “you can build a fine business of ‘pure open source.’ It’s those ‘highly scalable, highly monetizable business’ are a tougher nut to crack and a little help from closed source can look like a big mallet.”

I would agree with the comment from Mike Dolan that Coté’s assessment overlooks the role of embedded uses of open source, but I think I’ll come back to that next week.

Best of the rest
# Red Hat and IBM celebrated 10 years of mutual appreciation.

# Bloomberg reported that Google Android may run on Asus Netbook.

# Nokia received a €500m loan from the European Investment Bank to invest in Symbian devices, as well as the Symbian Foundation.

# Arkeia Software claimed to support 100 different Linux platforms.

# eZ Systems released eZ Find 2.0 for enterprise search, based on Apache Solr.

# SAP.info reported on SAP’s strategy with regards to open source, 451 clients can also read our take on the strategy.

# xTuple claimed 250% sales growth in 2007.

# The Times published a major article on open source software. Nothing groundbreaking, but good mainstream coverage.

# Ariba released AribaWeb RIA development framework under the Apache license.

# The 2009 “Future of Open Source” Survey, sponsored by InfoWorld-OSBC and North Bridge Venture Partners is now live.

# InformationWeek reported that Ubuntu is about to be certified for HP servers, although neither Canonical nor HP has officially announced it.

# Stormy Peters listed 5 types of company open source relationships.

# Mass High Tech reported on mending the VC model noting that as big VCs are slow to invest small funds see opportunities. This is somewhat off-topic for most, but highly relevant to the next CAOS report, due out in early April.

The tweet is on

# You can now follow 451 CAOS Links Live @caostheory

# I have been sceptical about Twitter but have been experimenting with it as a tool for collating 451 CAOS Links content

# It will primarily be used for outgoing communication about the latest news and views on open source

# I will also be using it to notify about new blog posts and to re-tweet open source related content from @the451group

# Although it will also serve as an opportunity for open discussion with the open source Twittersphere

# It is not intended to be a location for updates on my general health, travel plans and eating habits however.

# I have also created @maslett to ensure I have an outlet for my random thoughts should I feel tempted

10gen, Babble, MongoDB and open source longevity

Back in July last year we reported on the formation of a new open source cloud computing start-up called 10gen on our Cloud Cover blog as well as here.

Seven months later and there have been a few changes at 10gen, such that our information management blog is arguably the most suitable venue for discussion of the implications of 10gen’s MongoDB, the cloud computing database which has now become its major focus.

A quick recap: 10gen launched as an open source platform-as-a-service play offering the MongoDB object database as well as an application server and file system. So far, so cloud stack.

However, the file system quickly became an interface layer to MongoDB while the company more recently decided that its application server runtime and MongoDB are better off apart and shifted its attention to the database, a standalone beta version of which was released last week.

As the two projects have diverged so will this post. To continue reading about the future of MongoDB head for Too Much Information, otherwise:

10gen will continue to use the Babble application server for its existing customers and will continue to participate in the project although the plan is for it to transition from a company-led open source project to a community-led open source project.

In order to facilitate this 10gen has re-licensed the software under the Apache License (it was previously licensed using the GNU Affero GPL) and re-hosted it at an independent site.

It also plans to help it take its first steps: “We use the platform ourselves as well as having clients running applications on the platform. For us, it’s important that we do whatever we can to help establish a thriving community around Babble outside of 10gen.”

While it uses MongoDB for data persistence Babble is independent and is now described as a next-generation web application server suitable for small scale enterprise and department level applications as well as the cloud.

We’ve written before on here about the theory that an open source license enables a project to outlive the attention of its corporate supporters.

The theory hasn’t worked too well in practice for the Mindquarry project. It will be interesting to see whether a change of license has the desired effect for Babble.

Mobile Linux consolidation is for real

We’ve been talking on our blog and podcast about mobile Linux, and some of our findings from CAOS 10 – Mobility Matters. We’re seeing signs that we, along with mobile Linux and open source in general, are on the right track. It seems after a few fits and starts over the past few years, mobile Linux, consolidation and broader market share are all finally for real.

Here are a few developments that back up the contention:

*Esmertec buying Purple Labs to create Myriad Group AG: Esmertec, which is among software vendors in the Open Handset Alliance leveraging Android, is paying $82.4m in shares for Purple Labs, a mobile Linux, browser and messaging vendor. The combined company, Myriad, claims combined revenue in 2009 of around $125 million and represents 800 developers in America, Asia and Europe.

*A second major manufacturer and carrier (HTC and Vodafone) are bringing a second Android phone, the Magic, to market, highlighting the consolidation around Google’s Linux-based Android OS for the consumer space. We note in CAOS 10 how these first Android phones portend a positive future for the OS and open source on phones, and based on what we see today, that continues to be the case. We expect we’ll be seeing many more Android-based phones from major OEMs and carriers throughout the rest of 2009.

*There are also a number of new models coming out with LiMo, the mobile Linux consortium, software and specs on board. These include handsets from LG, Panasonic and Samsung. While LiMo is also looking to move beyond Asia and Europe and into the U.S., so is its opening competition from Nokia’s Symbian, which is in the process of being open sourced. Nokia and Qualcomm, which is also a backer of mobile Linux, plan on bringing Symbian phones to the U.S. We also discussed increasing competition among LiMo and Symbian in CAOS 10 and whether across the oceans or now in North America, this rivalry seems to be building.

These are all continued validation that the latest mobile efforts around Linux and open source software are truly contributing to consolidation, something the hardware, software and carrier players now pushing it have wanted for a long time.

451 CAOS Links 2009.02.17

Red Hat and Microsoft make nice on virtualization. Vodafone’s new Android handset. Esmertec acquires Purple Labs and becomes Myriad Group AG. Krugle acquired by Aragon Consulting Group. Serena boasts of 1 million Projity downloads. And more.

Virtual agreement
The big news of the week was undoubtedly Red Hat’s virtualization interoperability agreement with Microsoft. The official announcement is here, Microsoft’s take is here and Red Hat’s is here. Just in case you thought the companies had settled their differences entirely, the FAQ is also worth a read: “Is this a joint agreement between Red Hat and Microsoft? It’s not a joint agreement. Red Hat has signed an agreement to join Microsoft’s Server Virtualization Validation Program, while Microsoft has joined Red Hat’s Virtualization Certification Program.”

A hole heap of mobile announcements
Mobile World Congress in Spain ensured there were a large number of mobile Linux-related announcements to keep everyone busy. Among the highlights:
# Xandros launched new netbook “experiences” for ARM-based devices and Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets
# Intel announced that it is collaborating with LG on new Moblin-based mobile Internet devices
# Six new LiMO Foundation members were announced, including Telefónica, Aromasoft, Casio Hitachi Mobile Comms, Marvell, Opera, and Swisscom
# PacketVideo updated its OpenCORE multimedia sub-system for Android
# Freescale expanded its Netbook line with support for Android and Xandros
# Esmertec announced that it is to acquire Purple Labs and become Myriad Group AG
# MontaVista introduced Montabello, a new Linux-based software platform for Mobile Internet Devices
# Vodafone and HTC unveiled the Android-powered HTC Magic, initially for UK, Spain, France, Germany and Italy.

The best of the rest
# Serena Software claimed 1 million downloads for the Projity open source project management software it acquired in September.

# Atomic Labs released version 1.1 of its Pion web analytics log analytics and ETL software.

# Sun contributed a storage encryption communication protocol to OpenSolaris.

# Code search and analysis vendor Krugle has been acquired by Aragon Consulting Group.

# Coverity has published application architecture data from over 2,500 popular open source software projects.

# Forbes published an interesting article on the “collaboration gap” between corporate open source users and contributors.

# British company The Development Cloud is giving 50% of its commercial software revenue to contributors of associated open source projects.

# Intalio’s CEO Ismael Ghalimi redefined the company as a Business Operating Platform vendor.

# Zmanda launched Amanda Enterprise Version 3.0 and Zmanda Cloud Backup for Microsoft Exchange and SQL Servers.

Thought for the day
“In a way, open source and the cloud are the same thing” SugarCRM CEO John Roberts tells searchCRM.com. Hmm.

Microsoft blinks first on interoperability with Red Hat

More than two years since Microsoft persuaded Novell to enter into an interoperability agreement concerning Linux and Windows, it has finally got Red Hat to talk interoperability.

The agreement does not appear to be a repeat of the one Microsoft struck with Novell, however. I’m still taking in the details but one element stands out:

    “There are no patent or IP licensing rights provided by these agreements, nor are there any financial clauses.”

That is a significant statement given Red Hat’s insistence that an intellectual property agreement was not necessary to create interoperability between Linux and Windows, and Microsoft’s former claim that patent indemnification was a prerequisite for collaboration.

Under their agreement to work together Microsoft and Red Hat will provide testing, validation and coordinated technical support for mutual customers using server virtualization. Red Hat has joined Microsoft’s Server Virtualization Validation Program, and Microsoft is now a Red Hat partner for virtualization interoperability and support.

According to the agreement: “Once technical validation testing is complete, customers with valid support agreements will receive coordinated technical support for running Windows Server 2008 virtualized on Red Hat Enterprise virtualization, and for running Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V.”

There is no Linux-support coupon scheme, although that was exclusive to the Novell-Microsoft agreement anyway, and no patent or intellectual property agreement either.

Another desktop test for Linux

I wrote last year about how netbooks represented one of the first times Linux was going head-to-head on a more level desktop playing field against Windows. With word of a recent ‘hybrid,’ pre-installed Windows/Linux computer from Dell, I think we may be seeing a similar situation where Linux is not as handcuffed by the hardware, support and monoculture that was the Windows of old.

Why would a hardware manufacturer such as Dell do this? It actually makes a lot of sense. There is today a need for instant computing — for a PC to boot up and perform basic Internet-connected functions in an instant, the way you turn on and use a calculator. There is still also a need for greater and deeper performance, though I would guess most users will find waiting for boot-up in Windows a daunting proposition once they’re used to the instant on. Furthermore, I know that Linux can handle these greater and deeper performance tasks from experience. I also recognize, however, that it is still, amazingly, a Windows world sometimes with some applications, such as Webinar software or some media software, widely used but still stuck in MS monoculture. It’s sometimes convenient to have the option of Windows around, I’ll admit. However, the ease and proliferation of desktop virtualization certainly has the potential to level things out with Linux in this regard, too.

I’m still somewhat concerned about what is going on with netbooks, where we’re actually seeing limited Linux options in the face of demand for the open source OS. However, I honestly don’t know how long people will tolerate using Windows XP, which has actually been retired by its maker at the ripe old age of nearly nine years. In addition, for every version of netbook without Linux, there will likely be versions that include it, for reasons I’ve stated previously. Windows 7 may be a different story, but there is no way it will enjoy the desktop-dominance-from-the-start of any of its Microsoft predecessors.

I’m also encouraged, as well, to see Dell offering this hybrid line of computer that put Windows and Linux side by side with capable hardware support for both. Don’t think it means much for Linux to be a quick-boot option? Check out some of Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin’s thoughts, which I think help put this potential in perspective.

I think we can expect to see more of these pre-installed, dual-boot devices — similar to what is being offered from Dell, which has already led the way on desktop Linux. That’s a good thing and an opportunity, but also a true test for desktop Linux and its potential.

451 CAOS Links 2009.02.13

The open source vendor definition debate rumbles on. How open source could save the US government $3.7bn. Red Hat plans MASS migration to JBoss. Open source content management invades the US. Exploiting the attribution loophole in the GPLv3. And more.

Definition debate rumbles on
Roberto Galoppini joined the open source vendor definition debate, with a perspective looking at the impact on community engagement, and also caught up with David Dennis, senior director of product marketing at Groundwork, about the company’s strategy, noting that not all open source core vendors are created equal.

Meanwhile Tarus Balog of OpenNMS, who started off the whole discussion, explained the theoretical contradiction at the heart of the open-core model in the context of the request from open source vendors, including some open core advocates, for open source to be included in President Obama’s economic stimulus plans.

Speaking of stimulus packages, Meritalk estimated that open source technology could save the Federal government $3.7bn, based on an assessment of the IT infrastructure budgets of 30 agencies, backed by Red Hat and DLT Solutions.

MASS migration
Meanwhile Red Hat updated JBoss Enterprise Portal and launched a migration project to encourage migrations to JBoss from other middleware stacks. Rich Sharples, Product Management Director with Red Hat and JBoss MASS project lead, explained more.

Open source content management: coming to America
eZ Systemsincreased focus on the US, following announcements from Nuxeo and Hippo last week about movements Stateside. Incidentally, The 451 Group’s Kathleen Reidy wrote a great piece (451 Group clients only) last week on open source content management invading the US.

Flowplayer seeks attribution
Is Flash video player Flowplayer the next open source success asked ArcticStartup, while Roberto Galoppini (again) noted that it appears to exploit an attribution loophole in the GPLv3.

The best of the rest
# eWeek reported on the future of MySQL within Sun including comment from Sun’s new MySQL and infrastructure boss, Karen Tegan Padir.

# Sendmail claimed 100% sales growth over the past 24 months and 25% growth year-over-year in the fourth quarter.

# Novell’s Moonlight, which provides access to Mocrosoft Silverlight content on Linux, went 1.0.

# Snakebite network will enable testing of open source software on heterogeneous network, reported Computerworld.

# 14 new Symbian Foundation members were announced, including MySpace and HP.

# Penguin Computing is making waves in HPC, reported HPCwire.

# Sun’s chief open source officer, Simon Phipps explains the third wave of free and open source software. On video.

# “Open Source in India Today” by Alolita Sharma

# “Open Collaboration within Corporations Using Software Forges” by Dirk Riehle.

# Arjen Lentz: Open Source and your business and development models.

# Bdale Garbee: Collaborating Successfully with Large Corporations.

# David Rowe: Open Hardware business models.

There is no L in Sun’s LAMP

Yesterday Sun introduced Glassfish Portfolio. Its a new stack of open source middleware products including Glassfish Enterprise Server, Glassfish ESB, Glassfish Web Space Server, and the new Glassfish Web Stack, which includes support for projects such as Tomcat, Memcached, Apache, PHP, Ruby and Python and a copy of MySQL Community.

It’s a pretty complete infrastructure stack. What it is not, however, is an integrated LAMP stack, despite Sun’s reference to it as such not once but twice on its press announcement.

Glassfish Portfolio runs on Linux of course, as well as Solaris, but it does not contain Linux (integrated or otherwise) or Linux services (although that is available elsewhere). When I asked Sun for clarification on Glassfish’s status as a “LAMP stack” the answer was that most people use the phrase as shorthand for an Apache middleware stack whatever operating system it was running on.

That might be true for some people and the AMP Stack, is already taken but I am sure many more would dispute this position. It is still curious that Sun’s should continue to be so vocal in its use of “LAMP”. The result is probably one of two things:

  • It draws attention to Linux, the one part of the stack that Sun does not own.
  • It de-values the role of Linux as the underlying platform for the majority of modern web computing environments.

I doubt Sun would set out to deliberately do the first of these, which suggests that it is attempting to do the second. After all, it’s not the first time that Sun’s has played fast and loose with the definition of LAMP. Last year Jonathan Schwartz told Charles Babcock that “the ‘L’ doesn’t have to be taken literally” prompting Amanda McPherson to take him to task.

I believe Sun has an absolute right to compete with Linux, but its misuse of LAMP does it a disservice and can only serve to antagonize would-be customers who do very much care that their middleware stack runs on Linux. If Sun wants to market Glassfish Portfolio as an integrated LAMP stack it needs to come with Linux services (even if it is just for paying customers, as is the case with MySQL support).

Without Linux, it’s not LAMP.

Open source security debated

The debate over the security of open source software is dusting up again with some recent criticism of inherent risk in open source software packages commonly used by enterprises, governments and others. While the criticism from Fortify, based largely on a previous report, comes in response to some UK government indications of an embrace of open source software, I believe that sweeping statements about the security of open source software don’t make much sense.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to speak with a couple of experts who agree: there is open source software that is indeed less secure than it could be, but there are also examples of open source software that has been put to the security test, by years of enterprise use, and has passed (think Linux and Apache here). The other point is that the ‘inherent’ insecurity argument could easily be applied to commercial software, which has its own history of gaping holes and severe vulnerabilities. The bottom line: there is good and bad, secure and risky software in both categories of open source software and proprietary software.

Ernie Park, who headed up his own team’s risk report that featured a nice mix of both open source and proprietary software in use, says the complexity of the software is a major factor in its security and risk. No surprise there, but what is perhaps more interesting is Parks’ assertion that security also seems tied to two other factors: popularity and money. OK, popularity is another one that makes sense — the more widely software is used, the more likely it is to be targeted for security holes. The money behind a software project or product, however, is a far more interesting factor. Basically, Park argues, software that has paid, dedicated experts ensuring its quality and security tends to be more secure than software that comes from a group or community of developers who may not necessarily make their living from it.

Park does, however, still see the benefits of transparency and community, arguing that “a well used and available forum drives awareness to issues, and indirectly facilitates rapid resolution for complex software, regardless of licensing.” While Park laments that open source software has no central vulnerability database or authority, he says that if the larger open source community could get beyond its resistance to the idea of such a body or such control, it could very likely take its transparency advantages and run with them, bolstering the overall security of open source software.

Another perspective comes from David Maxwell, open source strategist for Coverity, which for more than two years has worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the federal government’s Open Source Hardening Project. Maxwell similarly stays away from sweeping statements about open source as secure, open source as insecure, commercial software as secure or commercial software as insecure. Instead, he says while the quality and security of open source software is generally increasing, that doesn’t mean that the ‘more eyeballs’ argument typically heard from open source proponents is always valid. From Maxwell’s perspective, there is not much difference between open source and commercial software when it comes to integrity, with a range of good and bad in both categories.

As the U.S. and new administration of President Obama contemplate open source software, I expect a similar debate will be occurring over the security of open source. I would hope that it is judged on its merits and its record and put in the perspective of software in general, which is created by human beings and is by no means ever perfect and free of security vulnerabilities, open source or not.

451 CAOS Links 2009.02.10

Reaction to Marten Mickos’s departure from Sun. On open letter to President Obama. Lots of announcements from Sun, the LIMO Foundation and WS02. Mozilla offers to help EC investigation of Microsoft. Black Duck raises funding and gets a new CEO. The state of Red Hat. And more.

Mickos fallout
Kaj Arno maintained that “MySQL’s culture and business philosophy will live on in Sun.” He added: “In fact, you could say MySQL now becomes mainstream at Sun. Former MySQLers continue in key positions, in some cases with a mandate to generalise and apply MySQL related learnings on other open source products.”

For example, Charles Babcock reported that Zack Urlocker is taking on the role of VP of life-cycle management across multiple product lines including MySQL and Sun’s portfolio of Java middlware.

Savio Rodrigues noted that Marten’s departure “is a blow to Sun and its open source street cred. But it’s not insurmountable.” Dana Blankenhorn agreed.

Elsewhere Chris Keene revealed that Marten was once arrested by a Sherriff at the Progress headquarters during a spat between MySQL and Progress about the MySQL trademark.

An open letter to President Obama

Executives from the Collaborative Software Initiative, Ingres, Jaspersoft, Alfresco, Hyperic, Talend, Cleversafe, Compiere, Medsphere, MuleSource, Atomic Object, OpenLogic, Sonatype and Unisys have signed an open letter to President Barack Obama requesting that his administration consider greater use of open source.

Why make one announcement when you can make five
Sun has launched Glassfish Portfolio, a new open source stack built around its Glassfish Enterprise Server. It includes a new Glassfish Web Stack with support for open source projects such as Tomcat, Memcached, Apache, PHP, Ruby and Python, as well as the Glassfish ESB and Glassfish Web Space Server, a new portal product developed in conjunction with open source portal vendor Liferay. Paying subscribers also have access to Enterprise Manager.

The LIMO Foundation was busy this week, announcing that Telefonica and SK Telecom had joined its board of directors, that six major operator members will specify and deliver handsets using LiMo Platform implementations in 2009, as well as updates to LiMo Platform, and the endorsement of the OMTP BONDI specification. It also selected Wind River as the systems integrator to deliver the common infrastructure, tools, testing and integration services for the LiMo platform.

Meanwhile WS02 announced the release of WSO2 Carbon, its componentized service-oriented architecture (SOA) framework, not to mention WSO2 Business Process Server, WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus 2.0, WSO2 Web Services Application Server 3.0, and WSO2 Registry 2.0.

Mozilla offers to help EC investigation of Microsoft
Mitchel Baker offered her assistance to the EC as it considers an effective remedy after it concluded that Microsoft’s tying of its web browser Internet Explorer to its dominant client PC operating system Windows infringes the EC Treaty rules.

Another good week for business card printers
Black Duck Software raised $9.5m in equity investment and debt financing and named former Red Hat and EqualLogic marketing exec Tim Yeaton as its new CEO.

Meanwhile EnterpriseDB hired former Red Hat sales director, Jay Barrows, as vice president of sales.

Hippo appointed new executive vice president of North America as it looks to target opportunities Stateside.

Infobright named former MySQL channel exec Mark Burton to its board of directors.

The best of the rest
Jim Whitehurst’s State of the Union at Red Hat.

Funambol announced version 8 of its MobileWe software for syncing mobile phones.

GroundWork Open Source has updated its Monitor product.

After his criticism of the Open Solutions Alliance, Glyn Moody published an interview with its president, Anthony Gold.

Is Open Source A Recession-Fighting Tool? At InformationWeek Serdar Yegulalp delves into some analyst reports, including our own Cost Conscious report from 2006, and our recent musings on the potential for M&A, to find out.

Further thoughts on defining “open source vendor”

Savio Rodrigues picked up the ball and ran with it, furthering the discussion on what makes a vendor an “open source vendor”. I left a few comments to Savio’s post that I thought were worth repeating here.

First off, Savio altered my definition slightly to ensure that the likes of Google and Amazon could not be considered “open source vendors”. This is what he came up with:

    “An ‘open source vendor’ is one that develops, contributes to, and distributes open source licensed products, which are integral to driving its revenue.”

Which I think does a good job, although as Savio notes:

    “The problem with this definition is how it applies to companies such as IBM, HP, and Accenture. They all contribute to and distribute Linux and other open source in order to generate revenue from servers or implementation services. As such, they would be considered “open source vendors” by my definition.”

As I commented, The discussion around The five stages of community open source engagement considered the fact that different business units within the same company can exhibit different attitudes to open source.

Consider Actuate and its BIRT business, which is a small but growing business based around the Eclipse BIRT project ($15.4m in 2008, compared to $131m for the company as a whole).

We will see more and more companies taking this approach to open source I believe. Progress and its FUSE business is another.

I wouldn’t consider Actuate or Progress (or IBM or HP) to be “open source vendors” so there’s a line to be drawn somewhere.

Perhaps the definition needs to be refined to take that into account, although I wouldn’t want to be the one who had to decide to draw that line (except for my own purposes).

Carlo Daffara, who has been at the forefront in terms of examining open source business strategies, commented:

    “We used a very similar one for our work in classification of business models. We set an (approximate) threshold on 33% of revenues from OSS-related activities, as in our informal experiments with clustering around revenues we found that was the ‘barrier’ across groups (the light-OSS companies like IBM or HP) and the OSS-based companies (like Alfresco, Actuate, etc.)”

As Carlo admits, however, “having a strict number as a barrier is problematic given obtaining realistic data on percentage of revenue is quite difficult.”

Meanwhile Andrew Lampitt asked whether this wasn’t just a re-hash of the “Is Obama black enough debate” referenced by Shaun Connolly in relation to the debate over types of open source community.

To which I would have to admit that yes, defining what constitutes an “open source vendor” is mostly an academic exercise that it of interest to only a few people. I have to do this sometimes to define the vendors that we cover in some of our reports, while others are trying to do it to meet their own commercial ends.

On our recent podcast Raven commented that a strict definition was not necessarily a good thing, echoing Shaun’s perspective that “Like the software these communities produce, the definition of community needs the chance to evolve and change in ways that we can’t even imagine.”

I was reminded of the phrase “you can’t be a little bit pregnant”. Can you be “a little bit open source”? Some would say no. I believe you can, and that there are degrees of openness with OpenNMS at one end and Microsoft at the other and Hyperic and Actuate and IBM somewhere in between.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2009.02.06

Topics for this podcast:

*Defining an open source vendor
*The virtual desktop game opens up
*Canonical’s Ubuntu survey, Linux server market
*Marten Mickos moving on from Sun

iTunes or direct download (26:32, 6.1 MB)

451 CAOS Links 2009.02.06

All change at Sun. A new CEO at Zend. Ingres enjoys revenue up 32%. Purple Labs raises funding. Is open source a danger to Microsoft or will Danger bring open source to Microsoft? (Not) open source food. And more.

It’s a good week for business card printers
There was a rush of new appointment and departure announcements this week. As already noted today, Sun has confirmed the departure of Marten Mickos as Sun is combining its Software Infrastructure organization with its Database Group to form a unified open source product group under the leadership of Karen Tegan Padir, vice president of MySQL & Software Infrastructure.

Earlier in the week Monty Widenius confirmed that he has left Sun, along with other developers of the Maria project. “Some of the Maria team members will follow me and some will stay in Sun. The plan is to continue to work on the Maria project more or less as before. The main difference from before is that the Maria project and it’s mailing lists will move to launchpad.”

Meanwhile Zend confirmed its new CEO is co-founder Andi Gutmans, Bob Sutor announced his new role of VP, Open Source and Linux at IBM.

Additionally SpringSource confirmed the appointment of Shaun Connolly as vice president of product management. Shaun spilt the beans before Christmas. While Nuxeo announced launch of North American Operations, based in Boston, Massachusetts under Dave Cloyd as General Manager – Americas.

Money, money, money
Ingres sent out a note this week stating that 2008 revenue was up 32% to $68 million in 2008, from $52 million in 2007, Strangely the company declined to announce this to the world, however. Leaving Matt Asay to step in.

Elsewhere Purple Labs reported revenue of 11m euros in the second half of 2008 and looks set to hit 50 million euros of revenue in 2009.

Microsoft goes open source. Again.
A sign of how much Microsoft’s attitude towards open source has changed over the years is the fact that I was completely non-plussed by the news that it is apparently going to use NetBSD for the forthcoming Danger Sidekick LX. Then came the news that it is searching for a director of desktop open source strategy.

New products
Virtual Iron shipped Release 4.5 Extended Enterprise Edition, Red Hat updated Enterprise MRG to version 1.1, and Liferay released Portal 5.2.

You can expect a whole lot of mobile-related open source news from Mobile World Congress in a couple of weeks. Azingo got its announcements out early, including a new browser and web runtime, Azingo Mobile 2.0, and a deal with Vodafone to develop applications for mobile phones based on the LiMo platform.

The best of the rest
Mandriva announced the formation of Mandriva Linux Assembly, an international committee bringing the company into closer contact with its community.

Maybe there is some hope for open source in the UK. This week Volantis Systems announced a new version of its Volantis Mobility Server (VMS) Community Edition and Opsera Limited announced the release of Opsview version 3.0, its Nagios-based IT monitoring tool.

“I’m not arguing Sun’s in any danger of going under. In fact, it can probably fare quite nicely as a (much) smaller, open-source software company. But that doesn’t fit with Schwartz’s vision for Sun… So at what point do we declare his vision a pipe dream and just move on? CNet’s Charles Cooper asks how long Jonathan Schwarz’s optimism will last.

Not-actually-open-source-at-all story of the week
What’s Cooking at Tsavo Media? Company Acquires Popular User-Generated Recipe Site OpenSourceFood