Bruce Simpson of Aardvark.co.nz asks the hard questions about uptake of Linux in New Zealand. He asks "Where can people go to get plain-English help and support for Linux?" The answer is not too far away, with Linux User Groups in every major New Zealand City, each with mailing lists full of people willing and able to provide immediate and free help. On the professional front there are companies like IBM, HP and Novell who are selling professional services around Linux. There is also an increasing number of small Linux service companies, although not too many in the small business arena as there isn't yet the same demand as Windows.
If the twelve commandments recently published by Microsoft are to be believed its good news for open source. It is saying that the anti competitive behaviours of its past are behind it, that it will no longer punish retailers and OEM's for distributing PC's with other than Microsoft products on them.
Novell today released Suse Linux Enterprise 10 hot on the heels of the release of OpenSuse 10. It features advanced clustering functionality and built in virtualizatiom. Novell will be launching it in New Zealand on August 29 in Auckland and August 30 in Wellington. Register for the launch here.
In a report prepared for the Under Secretary for Defence in the US there is a clear indication that Open Source Software and Open Standards are central to keeping the armed forces up to date with the most advanced software technology. In summary it says "OSS and Open Source development methodologies are important to the National Security and National Interest of the U.S".
Sometimes enthusiasm for Linux and Open Source can overcome good sense. Linux is ready for prime time withot question from a technical perspective, but that doesn't mean your users are. The message coming across loud and clear from various projects is to avoid a "Big Bang" approach. Roll Open Souce out gradually, moving users to Open Source applications such as Firefox and OpenOffice first, and only later changing the operating system. Changing everything without consideration will end up with a bad result for everyone, and turning people off of open source.
ComputerWorld recently run an article about the threats of Patents to innovation in the field of Open Source Software. While this is very much a clear and present threat to Open Source Software, it is also a threat to software development houses throughout the country. Innovation is being resitrcted, not encouraged, due to the use of patents to cripple companies and extract large settlements. Examples such as the Eolas patent and the Blackberry saga prove that no company is too big to be extorted for millions of dollars.
Microsoft has used many tools to maintain control of dominant control over office productivity products. It attempted to use patents to prevent competitors interoperating without special license. Then the patents were struck down in the US. Microsoft has now stepped back from that strategy and given commitments that nobody would be sued for using their new Word XML formats. However, the competing Open Document Format made popular by OpenOffice and now a ISO Standard has forced Microsoft to provide customers with some support for interoperability. In this article we see Microsoft starting an Open Source project that will provide support for ODF interoperability.
Nandor has been a vocal advocate of Open Source. Here we see another article by Nandor discussing the importance of Open Source software to New Zealand, this time on scoop.co.nz. Nandor comments that "This revolution is being won. By reliable estimates 15 to 20 per cent of the computing done in New Zealand enterprises utilises some form of open source, and much is being driven in-house, by work groups rather than by top management."
Hibernate is a Open Source Object Persistence Framework for Java. It allows Java Objects to be stored and retreived from a Relational Database. Many of the developers for Hibernate are employed by JBoss, which was recently aquired by Red Hat. FireStar Software has filed a patent infringement suit against Red Hat, claiming that Hibernate infringes US Patent 6,101,502.
ZDNet reports that Windows Genuine Advantage, Microsoft's new anti-piracy utility, might become compulosory, and lead to Windows on unlicensed PCs being rendered useless. A Microsoft customer service representative was quoted as saying "in [USA's] fall, having the latest WGA will become mandatory and if its not installed, Windows will give a 30 day warning and when the 30 days is up and WGA isn't installed, Windows will stop working, so you might as well install WGA now." While WGA is targeted at unlicensed copies, there have been reports that shrink-wrapped copies have failed installation and Microsoft's only suggestion has been 'buy another box, at your own expense'. No such kill switch has been reported in any Open Source operating system. Update: Microsoft have denied the speculation that they planned to cripple copies of Windows XP for users who did not install WGA. They have, however, dealt a blow to corporate IT staff, by announcing that volume licenses of Windows will require activation in Windows Vista.