November 2010 Archives

Sybase and the Bluetooth Android Device

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Despite its high profile acquisition by SAP, Sybase is attempting to still assert itself in the mobile software space with the recent release of its iAnywhere Blue SDK (Software Developer Kit), which supports the Bluetooth core specification version 3.0+ High Speed (HS) for Android devices.

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Sybase has been arguably mostly silent in the open source space due to the inherent proprietary nature of its database technology. Prior to this announcement, "Sybase and Open Source" searches would mostly lead to a 'Sybase Open Source for ebXML Messaging' section on the company's developer network pages.

Although Sybase points out that unlike normal open source solutions, Sybase SDKs are compliant with Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) specifications.

"Sybase's compatibility, operational stability and comprehensive technical support help manufacturers reduce development costs, shorten time-to-market and apply strict compliance to the Bluetooth SIG's interoperability standards as they evolve," says the company.

"By adding Blue SDK for Android v1.0 to our SDK portfolio, Sybase further extends Bluetooth support to our extensive and open device support strategy for Sybase's customer and partner ecosystem," said Dan Ortega, senior director of mobility product marketing, Sybase.

Sex & Sizzle - ah, but only after Business Intelligence plumbing

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Pentaho co-founder and CEO Richard Daley's recent Business Intelligence (BI) blog was entitled 'Sex & Sizzle - not without plumbing' -- so is the open source enterprise reporting software company to be lauded for some creative spin here, or simply guilty of crass showboating?

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Daley contends that BI projects are perceived as successful when it appears that all of the data work is done before any grids or graphs are ever produced. "It's the side of the business most BI vendors don't talk about as they'd rather just woo and wow people with flash charts and glossy dashboards. Not that there is anything wrong with that - who doesn't like great looking output? But, if the backend plumbing is either too complicated or non-existent, then it doesn't matter how sexy this stuff is," blogs Daley.

So given the above assertion, is the company's recently announced Pentaho Enterprise Data Services Suite built with the requisite simplification tools to ease the process of accessing, integrating and preparing data for analysis?

The company says that its new product (available as an On-Demand or On-Premise solution) provides an integrated set of tools to access virtually any data source and then integrate and prepare that data for end-user analysis, reports and dashboards.

But does Pentaho talk too much about the end result of Business Intelligence and end up (by dint of its new simplification tools) focusing too heavily on the final result?

After all, BI isn't only about the end result and making the final enterprise reports sizzling and sexy. Pentaho aims to sell us on its data integration, data uploading, metadata and data optimisation tools -- telling us that these are tasks represent the 'donkey work' element of information management.

Leveraging the cloud and Hadoop is the sexy part of the equation for Pentaho. Yes its technology is well placed and (in some senses) game changing, but credibility (and, presumably, sexy sizzle) in the face of data integration specialists and database administrators comes from talking about how the internal mechanics of its tools work so that it can gain credibility and trust in the eyes of the code monkey, the donkey worker and the code grinder.

Doesn't it?

Linaro juggles multiple SoCs (system-on-a-chips)

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Linaro used its appearance at the ARM Techcon event in Santa Clara earlier this month to showcase what it describes as "progress and momentum" for its collaborative embedded Linux. The company did this by showcasing multiple open source distributions, running on multiple SoCs (system-on-a-chips) using code or tools that had been enhanced by Linaro.

Essentially, the company is attempting to change the embedded open source world for the better by reducing non-value-add fragmentation.

Linaro's current team of open source developers have been working on two key areas: improving development tools and consolidating Linux kernel SoC support for the latest ARM Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A8 based chips.

In accordance with its open engineering principles, all working groups and platform engineering has been done in the open and is available for inspection on the developer wiki.

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Linaro has added community resources to its website for those that want to get involved or align engineering without the strategic commitment of Core or Club-level membership.

"By providing the best open source tools and software and helping to enable them on the most advanced Cortex-A9 chips, we are helping to unify and accelerate open source development," said George Grey, CEO of Linaro.

In the second cycle Linaro will build on this momentum by: investing in more open source projects relating to graphics, multimedia and power management; expanding the number of SoCs which support this software and support for leading edge cores; and announcing distribution owners as advisors to Linaro.

Attention class! Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA)

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Red Hat is urging system administrators to up their skill sets with a new base-level certification aligned to the key tasks required of Red Hat Enterprise Linux system administrators.

The Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) replaces the company's previous certification with the launch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 -- and is joined by a restructuring of the company's training curriculum, which it describes as a "facilitative teaching approach" with distinct training paths tightly aligned with today's IT job roles and tasks.

"Red Hat has offered Linux system administration certifications and courses for more than a decade. During this time, the IT infrastructure landscape has changed; Linux deployments in enterprise IT environments have expanded, job roles are more fluid and system administrators need skills across multiple platforms to keep today's complex data centres running," says the company.

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Back to school with Red Hat Training (free image Wikimedia Commons)

As a result of the industry's evolution, Red Hat insists that it has restructured its curriculum to offer training paths that more closely align with the diverse customer job profiles, backgrounds and skill-set goals including Windows and Solaris administrators.

Application integration gets an open source lifeblood injection

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Talend's scope as an open source data management software company just got a little bit wider. The company has acquired Sopera, a provider of open source SOA and middleware platforms.

After completing a $34 million financing round, Talend now says that the combined strength of both companies creates a leader in open source middleware solutions.

In theory, Talend is vying for "unique" positioning that takes advantage of the synergies that exist between data management and application integration projects.

But then of course we know that nothing (apart from snowflakes) is unique anymore.

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"The acquisition of Sopera is a critical step as we continue to evolve and grow our offerings and expand our market coverage," said Bertrand Diard, CEO and co-founder of Talend. "We are now poised to expand the leadership, innovation and value we deliver to our customers in adjacent markets. Our new offerings will enable us to expand into and democratise the application integration market, currently served primarily by traditional proprietary solutions from vendors such as TIBCO, Software AG and Progress Software."

Apache issues war cry over Java Community Process

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The Apache Software Foundation's (ASF) stance over its open source web server software and related projects is becoming heated. The ASF has reportedly issued a war cry in the form of an official threat to leave the Java Community Process (JCP) if Oracle acts like a corporate 'pale face' beast and refuses to treat it with the respect it deserves.

The Java Community Process describes itself as the mechanism for developing standard technical specifications for Java technology.

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Faced with the possibility of Oracle's potential to jostle towards a more proprietary treatment of Java's open source core, the official Apache Software Foundation blog made the following statement:

"The ASF will terminate its relationship with the JCP if our rights as implementers of Java specifications are not upheld by the JCP Executive Committee to the limits of the EC's ability. The lack of active, strong and clear enforcement of those rights implies that the JSPA agreements are worthless, confirming that JCP specifications are nothing more than proprietary documentation."

In return, Sun's letter of intent reads as follows:

"In summary, Sun's response is that some of Apache's requirements are satisfied in the current draft, but others are not. Sun is proposing changes to the JSPA draft so that all of Apache's requirements are satisfied, and with this note we convey the assurance that Sun's interpretation of them satisfies Apache's requirements. In what follows, we show how this is or will be made so, both in letter and in spirit."

Don't forget also that Oracle and IBM have said that they are collaborating to develop the OpenJDK reference implementation of Java:

"The Java community is vital to the evolution of the Java platform," said Hasan Rizvi, senior vice president, Oracle. "The collaboration between Oracle and IBM builds on the success of OpenJDK as the primary development platform for Java SE."

Watch this, and every other, space.

Every step counts, Qt moves to version 4.7.1

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It's interesting to follow a software company's release programme if you are actually following the incremental steps between the version changes.

The spaces between the 'point-dots' so-to-speak generally denote that the first figure is a major iterative development; the second figure is a significant enough step to warrant an upgrade for all but the most casual of users; and the final dot generally relates to enhancements and augmentations that are worthy, interesting and sometimes more useful than might initially appear to be the case.

So it is that the open source driven Qt cross-platform application and GUI framework comes to version 4.7.1 today. But what's new?

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Well June this year saw Qt 4.6.3 arrive along with a new build of the Qt SDK and a new version of the Qt Visual Studio add-in. These were essentially bug-fix releases, based on feedback and contributions from the open source community itself.

Now in November 2010 we come to Qt 4.7.1 and developers can grab the source directly from the public git repository, where the "v4.7.1″ tag matches the content of the released packages.

The Qt 4.7 documentation offering has been updated and a full list of information on what has changed in this release is available on the Qt 4.7.1 changelog.

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Writing on the company's official blog Jason McDonald says, "One change I want to highlight for this release is the discontinuation of the Qt SDK product, which shipped both Qt and Qt Creator in one package. The new Nokia Qt SDK product, which debuted a few months ago, also bundles Qt and Qt Creator in one package (along with a number of other useful tools). This makes the old Qt SDK rather redundant and we have therefore decided to retire it so that we can put a little extra effort into polishing the next version of the Nokia Qt SDK, which we expect to release before Christmas."

Java brews up at QCon San Francisco 2010

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You've heard of Microsoft PDC and TechEd, you've heard of CES Las Vegas and you have a fair idea that there's a pretty big IT industry gathering in Hannover every year. But did you know about QCon?

If you didn't - then please let me elaborate.

QCon describes itself as a "practitioner-driven" conference designed for team leaders, architects and project management professionals. It is composed of two very practically focused tutorial days and three main conference days.

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Tracks this year include Agile Evolution, 
The changing face of Agile and future directions; Architectures you've always wondered about, 
Design, architecture, and lessons learned from famous companies; Dev and Ops: A Single Team, 
Bringing Dev and Ops together to work as a single team; and Java, the Platform
 The growth of Java-the-platform independent of Java-the-language.

Host of Java, the Platform track Ryan Slobojan describes his section of the conference as, "A track that looks at the ways that the Java platform is being used independent of the Java language, and will also look at how the JVM will continue to grow and remain relevant despite the gradual deceleration of Java language change."

If you can't make it to San Francisco this week then you can download slides from all the sessions from the above link.

Stormy Peters leaves GNOME, breezes into Mozilla

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Technology analyst and renowned free and open source software (FOSS) advocate Stormy Peters (real name Robyn) has left her executive director post at the GNOME Foundation to join Mozilla.

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While at GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) she has worked hard to further the cause of this GUI desktop environment built entirely from FOSS code.

Moving from one non-profit organisation to another, Peters joins Mozilla to lead the organisation's developer engagement programme and focus on development of the so-called "open web" - a term much beloved of web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Aligning her interests now to Mozilla, Peters will be concerned with the onward development of its open source Firefox browser, Thunderbird mail client, Bugzilla bug tracking tool and other supporting technologies.

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Writing on her own blog Peters says, "So I am really sad to say that I am leaving my paid position as Executive Director. It's been really hard to write this blog post because I really don't want to leave. However, I've been offered a great opportunity to work on the open web at Mozilla. As you all know, I think we need to be pushing for freedom on the web as much as we've pushed for it on the desktop. So I see this next step as continuing in my contributions to making sure users have a completely free and open experience when using technology."

China Mobile joins Linux Foundation

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The Linux Foundation has welcomed China Mobile Communications Corporation (or simply "China Mobile" as it is known) as a Gold member, making the company the first Chinese enterprise to join The Linux Foundation.

China Mobile is the largest carrier in the world in terms of customer base, the scale of its network and by market value. The company has reportedly been investing in Linux recently, in its OPhone mobile operating system -- and it has developed a cloud computing system based on open source software.

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The Linux Foundation is engaged in the worldwide promotion, training and standardisation of Linux, fostering technical and marketing cooperation in the computing industry.

"China Mobile's decision to join The Linux Foundation and their commitment to Linux could represent a seismic step toward a realignment of OSes in China and in the telecommunications industry," said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. "For The Linux Foundation, the opportunity to present Linux as a choice to 560 million users is a power-packed proposition."


Four Favourite Fedora 14 Free Features

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The Fedora Project's community-supported open source collaborators have made enough "commits" to the code base of this free open source operating system distribution to this week announce Fedora 14.

Fedora project leader Jared Smith has described what he calls a "myriad of contributors" who have helped augment this release with new features for developers, system administrators and open source enthusiasts.

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So here are four favourite features in free Fedora 14:


  • Framework software for Spice, a rapidly advancing infrastructure for desktop virtualisation

  • New debugging features for developers, such as support for dynamic/unplanned memory usage tracking and faster launch thanks to pre-generated indexes

  • Updated tech preview of the GNOME shell environment, part of the upcoming GNOME 3.0 release

  • A subset of new and innovative software from the MeeGo community for an enhanced experience on netbooks and small devices

Restricting the list to four is perhaps unfair, there is more of course including OpenSCAP, an open-source framework for the Security Content Automation Protocol -- and support for emergent programming languages like D, and refreshed versions of popular languages such as Python 2.7, Erlang R14 and the Rakudo Star implementation of Perl 6.


Perhaps I should have titled this blog "FIVE" favourite features - that would have still worked from an alliterative point of view after all!

A complete list of Fedora 14 features is available here.

Symbian SEE 2010: Nokia Qt & Taking Your App from Code-to-Coin

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Despite sporting one of the arguably more unattractive logos of all time, Symbian's SEE 2010 conference and exhibition will kick off in around a week from now on November 9th in Amsterdam.

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This developer shindig will feature an Application Developer Track and a Business of Apps Track coveing a range of technical topics, including how to get started on Qt, cross-platform development and leveraging web development tools.

On Day 1 Finnish developer guru Hannu Honkala will be introducing the Nokia Qt SDK for Symbian Application Development presentation and and Piotr Madej will present Building Your First WOW!! Symbian Application.

But enough of simply listing some of the more interesting session tracks, let us instead try and form some kind of stream of consciousness and list some of the main themes you might see and hear if you attend the show this year:

Close you eyes and think: slick User Interfaces, building new Video apps; over Wi-Fi; 3G Data; new music applications; rendering with OpenGL ES 2.0; global distribution and monetisation -- and the quite beautifully crafted new term "Taking Your App from Code to Coin."

Amsterdam with Symbian anyone...? Umm, I dunno - that logo really does honk.

It's the software that drives the hardware: semiconductors love open source

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IBM's Rational Software division is extremely fond of creating taglines for its developer events that place the word 'software' above all other elements of the IT stack. Software Runs the World, Better Software = Better Business and, if you need one more, Software in Concert.

By why do I rant thusly? Because we must now realise that software drives hardware - and I don't mean that in the obvious sense; I mean that production and manufacturing of hardware now depends more on software development than on all other R&D.

This is a view backed up by provider of open source management software Protecode who has recently discussed the management of open source licensing for semiconductors.

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Software is a massive enabler for the semiconductor industry says Protecode. Drivers, real-time operating systems (RTOS), software development kits (SDKs), networking & security, administration, media formatting & compression and of course an endless list of applications - without these things, the hardware production engine simply doesn't get started.

So let's repeat this point. The semiconductor industry now spends more on software development than on all other R&D aspects, but how do developers build all of this software at a reasonable cost?

"Increasingly, developers supplement custom coding with open source software, enabling rapid development at a reduced cost with a high degree of flexibility, security and stability. Open source opens up new opportunities that did not exist even a few years ago. As with every significant opportunity comes the need for responsible practices to ensure fairness and sustainability. In simple cases, managing third party content and the associated licensing obligations manually is possible. However, in larger projects, this becomes cumbersome and inaccurate, leading to potential quality or licensing issues. In these cases, automation can help," says Protecode.

Assuring open source license compliance will generally include three aspects:

1. Definition of a licensing policy.
2. Auditing of software to detect open source code that violates the licensing policy.
3. Corrective processes to ensure that all software conforms to the licensing policy.

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"The cost of managing software license obligations is analogous to managing defects in the development process and the earlier 'licensing bugs' are identified and corrected, the less expensive it is to correct them. Consequently the selection of an audit methodology is pivotal in determining the speed and hence cost of detection and correction."

"External content management can range from ad hoc developer training and post-development cycle auditing to proactive fully-automated real time scanning approaches. Each organisation must consider their approach, balancing the short term cost of developer training and tools versus the potential longer term cost of post-release quality or licensing problems. Regardless of the approach, the overall goal is to minimise the life cycle cost of the final software release."

The above quotes are attributed to Kamal Hassin, director of R&D & product management at Protecode.

Pedal to the metal: Linaro's accelerated Linux development group

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Open source moves fast; it's hard to keep track of all the names of vendors in this space. But despite this velocity, this momentum and this community driven collective thrust, the industry rarely seems to spiral riotously out of control.

So how does open source stay on track?

Perhaps it is the groups, organisations and industry bodies that sit over the development of open source (and all software application development for that matter) that help to keep things in on a steady keel.

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So, in June of this year ARM, IBM, Texas Instruments, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and Freescale founded a not-for-profit open source engineering organisation called Linaro to accelerate the development of new Linux-based cutting-edge devices such as smartphones, tablets, digital TVs and automotive infotainment equipment.

Six months later (i.e next week on November 10th) Linaro says it will demonstrate the tools and software created in its first engineering cycle and showcase how it is already helping the industry to drive forward open source innovation.

But Linaro is not a distribution; although Linaro says that it will develop validated software that interacts directly with the silicon and kernel -- and that tools will also be available.

The organisation's FAQ describes Linaro thusly, "It is a common software foundation and set of tools for other distributions to use. The validation and release process enables silicon suppliers to test their Board Support Package (BSP) and make it available to device manufacturers, distributions and software developers. All of the software will be developed in the appropriate upstream open source project."

You can read more here if you have further interest.


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