August 2010 Archives

OpenOffice 3.3 moves closer to Microsoft Office look & feel

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If you've been following the OpenOffice updates programme then you'll know that the beta of the 3.3 version is now with us and the release candidate is expected sometime later this year. It is over a decade since Sun Microsystems purchased the source code for what used be known as StarOffice and made it available free of charge. Now well out of puberty and adolescence, has OpenOffice truly evolved to present its competitors with a real substantial alternative?

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What's another word for thesaurus? If you've found yourself asking that question a lot then you'll be happy to know that this service is due to be delivered as a right-click option directly while you are writing. Good news for everyone surely.

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Ribbons from the Microsoft haberdashery - you may well agree that the so-called "ribbon" menu interface looks nothing like a ribbon. True as that may be, Microsoft seems have cornered the market on de facto terminology here and supplanted this term into our general consciousness. Logically then, the developers forming this division of the OpenOffice.org project saw fit to emulate it. Hence Project Renaissance was born.

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PowerPoint style presentation application Impress gets new 3D slideshow transitions functionality and different sheet tabs can now be colour-coded in the Calc spreadsheet. If that cake mixture is not enough for you then you'll be pleased to see that the hundreds and thousand here come in the form of new fonts, extra templates, additional clipart and some new file filters.

For the true OpenOffice enthusiast there are also extensions and additional tools available from the OpenOffice website. There are in fact enough of these additions to take this product into a new territory beyond that of an 'Office' suite as we know it today. But will it be enough to crack Redmond's hold on this market? Will OpenOffice adoption at a corporate level really start to take a hold now?

Are you a "trusted" Java developer?

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With less than a month to go now before Oracle OpenWorld and JavaOne in San Francisco, the news wires are alight with talk of the "new Java" as it develops under the watchful eye of his royal highness Mr Larry Ellison. News last week confirmed that Ellison will indeed use the opening keynote address to share his vision for the future of Java and no doubt this will be among the more keenly received addresses of the conference.

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In the meantime, "other" third party organisations appear to aligning themselves a little closer to the Javasphere, perhaps hoping for a slice of the latest Java pie when it is finally served up.

Among these is the Java Verified service, which is readying the launch of "Trusted Status" for Java ME developers. This new initiative is aimed at both the little guys who test a couple apps a year and the big publishing houses that test thousands of apps a year - with the goal of reducing costs for all, and driving more high-quality apps into the market faster. Earning the Java Verified mark of quality ensures that the app really works and is required by many app stores.

It is hard to fathom quite how this initiative sits in relation to the Sun Certified Professional (SCP) professional certification programme, which is already operated by the company to verify and maintain skillsets in both the Java programming language and the Solaris Operating System. It appears to suggest that this is a cheaper route to certification than Sun's system, whether it is fully recognised by industry is another question.

According to the Java Verified team, developers earning Trusted Status have proven that the quality of their Java ME (mobile edition) apps is of a consistently high standard and have demonstrated unfailingly that testing to the Java Verified UTC standard is a crucial part of their product development activity.

"Right now we're asking for feedback from JavaME developers as we move to finalise the programme for formal launch at next month's JavaOne. We've established a public blog and have asked developers to provide feedback on quality specifics, with input coming in at a good pace," said Russ DeVeau of Java Verified.

You can view the blog for yourself right here and make your own mind up.

Firefox 4 Beta updates tabbing and syncing functions

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The Firefox 4 Beta has today been updated with new features focused on allowing users to sync data across devices as well as tab improvements. The open source browser's new syncing functions allow bookmarks, history, passwords, form-fill data and open tabs to be accessible across multiple computers and mobile devices.

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Looking after security, Firefox Sync encrypts a user's data before sending it to the server and does not track your travels through the web. When downloading the Firefox 4 beta, users are automatically prompted to create a Firefox Sync account.

Mozilla Project's Mike Connor used his blog to detail the new tabbing functions by saying, "The beta now includes Firefox Panorama (formerly Tab Candy) as a new approach to tab management to organise and multi-task while on the web. If you juggle many open tabs for work, shopping, music, social sites, vacation planning and more, you can easily group and prioritise those tabs any way you want. With one keystroke you can see an overview of all tabs to quickly locate and switch between tabs or groups of tabs."

This latest 4 Beta also includes a Feedback Add-on with Mozilla Labs Test Pilot, which enable "users" to take part in anonymous studies. Mozilla is using the term "users" to include both technically minded software application developers and plain and simple casual users to get the widest possible perspective on how it should polish the final product.

Download the beta here for yourself.

What is "Open Storage" anyway?

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Open Storage company Nexenta Systems has formed a new technology partnership with Silicon Valley based Supermicro, makers of optimised server solutions based on the x86 architecture.

This news concentrates on fully redundant, fault-tolerant, "cluster-in-a-box" systems that provide hot-swappable functionality optimized for mission-critical, enterprise-level highly-available storage applications.

Got that?

Good, I thought perhaps not. So what is open storage anyway?

Sun's open storage blog very succinctly defines open storage thusly: "As a general term, open storage refers to storage systems built with an open architecture using industry-standard hardware and open-source software."

Nexenta's unified open storage management platform then bucks the trend as most storage vendors do build their solutions on proprietary software. Additionally, if you place your belief in the open source mantra, these systems are argued to provide higher functionality and better performance-for-dollar than legacy storage technologies.

If you wish to learn more about open storage you can view a video from Nextenta themselves below who explain the NexentaStor approach to offering storage freedom quite enthusiastically.

Will Oracle OpenWorld be, well, open?

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Oracle OpenWorld 2010 is scheduled for September 19th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. But with doubts hanging in the air over whether Oracle will still uphold Sun's comparatively clean record for open source altruism, one naturally starts to question - just how 'open' will Oracle OpenWorld be.

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Earlier this month the company did in fact release its Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse 11g, which if it does what it says on the tin, will help accelerate Java development tasks. The new release extends support for the open source built GlassFish Server and WebLogic Server for building and deploying enterprise Java EE applications - both of which sit as components of Oracle Fusion Middleware.

According to Oracle, "A component of Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse is a free set of Eclipse-based plug-ins that enables developers to build Java EE and Web Services applications for the Oracle Fusion Middleware platform where Eclipse is the preferred Integrated Development Environment (IDE)."

Beyond this layer of Oracle's newly enriched technology stack, there is the fact that the OpenWorld conference will inevitably feature a widened partner network with plenty of pure-play open source companies all vying for some voice.

The company will host what it calls the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Forum as part of this September's event and which will feature the following special interest group meetings: Database, Middleware, Applications, Project Portfolio Management, Servers and Storage, Software-as-a Service, Partnering with Oracle in the Cloud - and, crucially perhaps, Solaris, Linux and Java.

Oracle is clearly a business and a profit-focused commercial entity at that. That the company should be continually castigated for this given its newfound stewardship of Java is already becoming tiring. I hope we can start to provide more balance and tell both sides of the story. Yes Oracle looks to have abandoned OpenSolaris development in favour of, well, Solaris.

But for every story in this vein, let's try and scratch below the surface to keep our balance. After all, we wouldn't want to fall off the log now would we?


Lady Gaga meets her match with Oracle's Lady Java

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You may well be a big fan of Lady Gaga. You may well be a keen proponent of the Java programming language. But could you possibly be a p-p-poker faced Java coder who is also just crazy about Lady Gaga?

So far you've not been able to combine your love of Java and Lady Gaga at the same time right? Well, the wait is over as now we have Oracle's Lady Java to enjoy.

She looks good, she sounds good and boy does she enjoy a bit of enterprise-level Java based software solution deployment. She is a bit rude about Bill Gates though. The video below is presented for your enjoyment from the JavaZoneNo channel. Be sure you watch it and just check out her middleware.

This link to the JavaZoneNo channel should enable you to further share the video if you wish.

Ubuntu's next version is the Natty Narwhal

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Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth has used his blog to inform the open source community about the name of the next version of the Ubuntu operating system, which his company leads the project development of.

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With a new release every six months, the releases are named after imaginatively labeled animals on an alliterative basis. Prior to Natty Narwhal, some of the previous Ubuntu releases were named as follows:

Warty Warthog
Hoary Hedgehog
Breezy Badger
Dapper Drake
Edgy Eft
Feisty Fawn
Gutsy Gibbon
Hardy Heron
Intrepid Ibex
Jaunty Jackalope
Karmic Koala
Lucid Lynx
Maverick Meerkat

Shuttleworth uses his blog to explain, "The world of free software is the platform upon which the future is being built. So the Narwhal, as the closest thing to a real live unicorn, is an auspicious figurehead as we lay down the fabric from which dreams will be woven. Dreams of someone's first PC, dreams of someone's first million instances in the cloud: whatever your vision of the future, we hope the Natty Narwhal will have something to offer."

Accenture predicts open source adoption, but does it "join in" too?

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Technology consulting and outsourcing firm Accenture used its appearance at the Red Hat Summit and JBoss World in Boston earlier this summer to talk about mainstream adoption of open source. As such, the company says it is continuing its own investment in open source solutions and that it predicts the systems integration services around open source is a £4 billion market.

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A survey of Accenture clients revealed that 78% of enterprises had already deployed open source solutions and are planning on increasing their commitment.

While this is good news at a macro-economic level for open source proliferation and code development, it brings into question what degree of altruism and wider philanthropic interest Accenture has in open source.

Is the company standing at the edge of the open source community ready to provide consultancy and outsourcing services charged at top dollar? Or is it actively getting involved and "joining in" with the community-based contribution model of software application development?

According to the Red Hat corporate blog channel, "Accenture is already investing in open source solutions like AMOS, which is built on Red Hat solutions. Accenture continues to invest in open source through its Innovation Centre for Open Source, which leverages Red Hat Solution Stacks, including JBoss Enterprise Middleware. Red Hat has worked with Accenture to create the Accenture SOA Reference Architecture, Accenture Foundation Platform for Java, Accenture Mobility Operated Services, and the Accenture Public Service Platform."

So that's all good news then with no corporate marketing smoke-screening right? You can watch Accenture's chief technology architect, Paul Daugherty give his keynote address at the Red Hat Summit and JBoss World video archives right here and decide for yourself.

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"Everything-as-a-Service" is now accepting phone calls

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If the trend for service-based cloud delivery solutions didn't extend far enough for you, then prepare yourself for CaaS (Communications-as-a-Service). We're already used to Software-as-a-Service, Desktop-as-a-Service and even Infrastructure-as-a-Service - but Communications-as-a-Service has enjoyed comparatively fewer headlines in recent times.
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Computer Weekly actually reported on this subject back in 2007 saying that, "Gartner predicts that the Communications-as-a-Service market will hit a whopping $2.3bn by 2011."

The open source eZuce openUC project aims to make this growth prediction a reality by allowing enterprises to replace legacy PBX systems and turn communications into software.

Based on the standards established by the SIPfoundry community, eZuce is aimed at enterprises with 200-10,000 users and claims to be able to deliver enterprise-grade CaaS at the price of e-mail.

"Current approaches to UC are stifled by interoperability challenges. As enterprises tackle these challenges, eZuce openUC portends a new set of options for delivering and managing voice, video and data communications. Enterprises seeking an open solution will find the standards-based, interoperable and scalable offering from eZuce to act as a cost-effective option," said 
Blair Pleasant, principal analyst at COMMfusion LLC & UCStrategies.com

StarTeam Express, answer me yes

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Microsoft uses the 'Express' label to denote its home, student and hobbyist line of products. Now it seems that Micro Focus is happy to also pick up the moniker to label its open source StarTeam Express software change and configuration management (SCCM) solution.

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Starlight Express image by Alessandro Pinna

While not the only open source SCCM solution available to software developers today, Micro Focus draws a distinction between its own product and offerings such as Subversion by saying that StarTeam Express will extend to integrate with the company's 'Silk' family of quality assurance solutions.

StarTeam Express attempts to promote better software development team communication and collaboration through centralised control of project activities and digital assets. Proponents of change management tools highlight the reality of team members often leaving a project and taking their knowledge of workflows and file revisions with them. SCCM aims to capture this knowledge with defect tracking, file versioning and threaded discussions.

"StarTeam Express was designed with the goal of accommodating the new economic realities that exist in today's enterprises without making customers sacrifice the features and functionality needed for efficient change and configuration management," said Rich Novak, president and general manager of the Micro Focus Application Management and Quality Division.

Micro Focus says its Express version, which is available for download immediately, offers full enterprise-level capabilities and functionality for individuals or small teams of up to ten users.

Open Compliance Programme Launched At LinuxCon Boston

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The LinuxCon user conference and exhibition this afternoon heard news a major new Open Compliance Programme backed by the non-profit Linux Foundation.

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Intended to assist corporate bodies and individual development teams on their road to compliance with open source licensing issues, the suggestion from the Foundation is that widespread use of free and open-source software code is largely misunderstood - and that heavier compliance controls are needed.

Especially rife in the mobile segment, companies with improper code usage now have the Linux Foundation's vendor-neutral control programme overseeing them. These same companies are now under increased scrutiny from the Software Freedom Law Center, a body which exists to protect and advance Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS).


Canonical Widens Ubuntu Cloud Coverage With IBM DB2 Express-C

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It's not often that you see a company's product 'brand' become better known than the company itself. So Heinz makes HP Sauce and even the Marmite Company makes Marmite. But Canonical acts as the company behind the Ubuntu project.

In much the same way that Sun "overseas the stewardship of Java" (a term I heard used by Larry Ellison at JavaOne 2009) - Canonical specifies that it is committed to the production and support the Ubuntu open-source operating system.

Although I should point out that I spoke to the company this week and although they liked the term 'stewardship', they weren't so happy with the parallel being drawn to Sun Microsystems.

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Canonical's long-term goal is to see Ubuntu available to every organisation and individual on servers, desktops, laptops and netbooks. The company recently launched a virtual appliance of IBM's DB2 Express-C 'no-charge' community edition of DB2 software running on the Ubuntu cloud computing platform in both private and public cloud configurations.

... and this is all part of what Canonical describes as, "The growing ecosystem for Ubuntu 10.04, which launched in April 2010 with declarations of support from more than 80 organisations."

We will report more closely on Ubuntu and all Linux distros in the weeks to come, please share your thoughts, concerns and - if necessary - your horror stories.

SNORT uses 'many eyeballs' for free network intrusion detection

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The Snort open source network intrusion detection and prevention system from Sourcefire is now integrated with Intel's QuickAssist Pattern Matching Technology. This free traffic analysis tool will use the Intel technology to perform "deeper inspection" with higher throughput and lower latency.

For network administrators overseeing high-speed networks that need protection, one of the biggest concerns will be the potential for bottlenecking of the security layer if it is not capable of operating in real-time at high speeds. Sourcefire is aiming to address this issue with Snort.

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Snort's community website details is ethos as follows:

"The power and reach of Snort is due in large part to the influence and scope of the Snort user community. There are thousands of experienced programmers reviewing and testing the functionality of the Snort engine and rule sets. By leveraging the "many eyeballs" theory that was popularized by Eric Raymond and used to launch Linux to success in the operating systems market, people in the open source Snort community worldwide can detect and respond to bugs and other security threats more quickly and efficiently than in a 'closed' environment."

Sourcefire says that the Intel QuickAssist Technology Pattern Matching service is perfectly suited for deep packet inspection applications such as intrusion detection and prevention systems.

Acronym Spaghetti: BPM needs UPM to support BAM and CEP

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For those readers who feel that Business Process Management (or BPM as it is known) software systems could do with more acronyms; you might also want to consider User Process Management (UPM) and it's manifold uses in Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) to support Complex Event Processing (CEP) tasks.

Confused yet? I have a suspicion that might be the idea.

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Regardless, this month sees user process management vendor OpenSpan release version 4.5 of its software "redeveloped" for both Microsoft Visual Studio developers and non-Microsoft Visual Studio developers.

According to OpenSpan, this news will mean that Visual Studio developers can now use their existing Microsoft developer tools to create and distribute OpenSpan UPM projects to monitor what users are doing within and across the applications they use every day.

Although OpenSpan suggests that this technology will help IT managers to analyse the use of those applications to identify inefficiencies and process bottlenecks, the company has made no mention of any up-skilling or retraining requirements for the developers who will use its product.

Perhaps the only observation to make here is that when companies align their product to Microsoft Visual Studio, they naturally assume that developers will simply say 'ah ok - that's my IDE (integrated development environment) of choice, so I won't need to learn anything new. But is this always the case?

Both Visual Studio products are available as free downloads directly from OpenSpan's new developer community.


Red Hat Is Number One Gnome, Is There A Control Freak Problem?

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Open source veteran Red Hat has confirmed its status as top corporate contributor to the Gnome desktop environment project. A study of 106 companies that have contributed to Gnome development over the past 10 years ranked Red Hat in first place with nearly 17 percent of the total code commits.

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Although its presence in the open source market makes it arguably quite logical for Red Hat to have been ranked in first place by Neary Consulting's census study, the company's Fedora distribution and the commercially supplied Red Hat Enterprise Linux, have clearly allowed its engineers to refine their contributions to desktop, kernel, virtualisation and development tools at a variety of levels.

Just for the record - - absolutely no suggestion is being made here that Red Hat has used its weight and muscle in the Linux space to "altruistically" contribute that total number of code commits with any side agenda of compounding its own position in the industry.

Once again, companies with commercially aligned versions of enterprise Linux should not be accused of attempting to assert their wider control over the market by maximising the total number of touchpoints they have to the wider community code base.

I hope I have made that absolutely clear.

Red Hat says that it is committed to the collaborative development of an open alternative to proprietary client operating systems. The company Red Hat serves as a member of the Gnome advisory board, in addition to Canonical, Collabora, Debian, Free Software Foundation, Google, IBM, Igalia, Intel, Motorola, Mozilla Foundation, Nokia, Novell, OLPC, Oracle and the Software Freedom Law Center.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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