Posts Tagged ‘Open Source’

Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL)

September 17th, 2009 No comments

This is a guest post by Mohammad Atif, who is currently carrying out a PhD in high performance computing and virtualization at the Australian National Univeristy (Canberra, Australia). This is a follow-on post from a previous posting on open-source licenses (Critical Analysis of Open Source Licenses)

Sun’s Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) is a community oriented license which is geared towards protecting the rights of the initial developer of the software e.g. Open Solaris was open sourced under CDDL, and its initial developer is Sun Microsystems (Now soon to be Oracle). This license is based on Mozilla’s Public License (MPL).  Under the CDDL license terms, any code contributed towards the project has it’s copyright assigned to the initial developer. This ensures that the initial developer can reuse that particular code towards any proprietary closed source project (a major difference compared to MPL and GPL). The initial developer can also change the license subsequently, and has the right to make the whole project closed source (at any point) including any third-party contributions provided after the availability of the initial code under the CDDL.

In contrast, the Mozilla Public License (MPL) does not require third-party contributors to sign over their copyright in favour of the initial developer. MPL only requires that any code submitted to the project should be licensed as MPL or be proprietary.

Often CDDL is criticized by open-source purists as not being developer friendly, as subsequent contributors of patches or new features can lose their right to IP they have contributed at the whim of the initial developer. MPL though more developer friendly, is not compatible with GPL and the reason why Firefox is released under a triple-license (MPL/GPL/LGPL).

Open Source Analytics and Reporting Frameworks

August 9th, 2009 No comments

I gave a talk at the FOSSLC summercamp ’09 event, on open source analytics and reporting frameworks.

The talk focussed on techniques to make data more accessible to stakeholders. I covered techniques for accessing, analysing, and visualizing data using web based reporting frameworks as well as employing programmatic means to generate natural language English reports.

The topics covered included:

* The importance of reporting technology
* The sources of data
* Data extraction and modelling
* Data cleaning techniques
* Data transformation
* Analytics — choosing the metrics
* Reporting using web frameworks
* Reporting using Natural Language Generation
* Things that can go wrong
* Best practices

The video is available at Free and Open Source Software Learning Center (FOSSLC)

Open Source Search Engines: Talk from Summercamp ’09

August 3rd, 2009 No comments

My talk at FOSSLC summercamp ’09 is now available via ePresence. Spend 20 minutes, and learn about the magic behind search engines. Full money back guarantee.. (wait, you didn’t pay me anything!)

Startup Catalyst: Open Source Software

June 18th, 2009 1 comment

I’ll start out this post with a confession. I’ve been a big fan of open source since I administered my first FreeBSD server in 1993, and I’m a charter member of the FOSSLC community. Phew, I’ve finally gotten that off my chest. Now let me explain why I think that open source is the best thing that could have ever happened for the 2009 startup.

Firstly, some background. When you enter the market with your own shingle dangling in the breeze, you realise two things almost immediately; (1) there are a ton of opportunities out there and you really need to prioritise wisely. The ‘build vs. buy’ tradeoff becomes very real when every hour of yours can be allocated to paid consultancy, invested in strengthening (or laying the groundwork of) your business, donated to help others (mentorship and charity work), or spent with the family. Even if you can avoid the temptation of purchasing a million labour and time saving devices (which I am fortunately good at), you will need to automate aspects of your business to allow you to get things done. You need to spend ‘something’ in order to make money, whether it is time/effort, calling in favours or plunking down the cash.

Then you also have to grapple with the fact that when you’re going toe-to-toe in the marketplace with the likes of IBM, PriceWaterhouseCoopers or Google, you’re faced with both formidable brands and formidable technology. Fortunately, there are strategies available to deal with both.

Fighting the formidable brand problem involves finding an underserved (or neglected) market. It’s been done before. Sony beat out RCA by selling sucky walkmen to teenager (who finally could listen to their music without shocking their parents). Google beat out Yahoo by automating the search index creation, and making irrelevant (and a veritable white elephant) the incumbent hand-built directory. This strategy has been very comprehensively covered in The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

A solution also exists for the formidable technology barrier; ideally, you are in working in a space where mature components are available that can get you part of the way there. This strategy has been described in Winning at New Products: Accelerating the Process from Idea to Launch, Third Edition. The crux of the matter is that the existence of building blocks, whether for your business, or the development of your product, can make your effort much more likely to succeed. These building blocks reduces risk of failures, whether it be that of your contact database being wiped out, or a key customer suing you for breach of contract, when your product fails on them.

Traditionally, these components have been sold by vendors for affordable rates, as price competition exists in a component based market. However, you have another choice nowadays, and that is access to open-source software (and even hardware if you like building phones, mobile devices and robots).

The open source solutions are usually as good as the commercial alternatives, and you can easily access either free support on forums, or have paid consultants available to help you out. There is no three months licensing/contracts dance, and once you have the software in place, it keeps improving as the community improves the software.

I use WordPress for my Blog, have 6 TikiWiki CMS set up to collaborate on different project and leverage the Wiki, forums, votings and file management capabilities. I am using Apache Nutch, Lucene, Hadoop, MySQL, Java and Eclipse for the search engine development, which easily saves me two years of development (and that is a conservative estimate). My primary platform is Ubuntu, which I’ve configured to suit my requirements. I author my documents in LaTeX and OpenOffice.

MY team creates our own logos and graphics via GIMP and Inkscape.

My conservative estimate is that this software is providing me over 100,000 dollars worth of value.

Now, its up to me and my colleagues to start with this seed which was essentially there for the taking, and realise our vision. There is no scope for excuses. The existence of big brands backed by big technology no longer has any relevance for us. By choosing open source, and selecting an underserved market, we’re just strategically out-maneuvered both competitive obstacles. It is time to reach for the brass rings.

Carpe Diem.

Historian is on Hiatus

June 12th, 2009 No comments

I want to thank all my friends who took the time out to test Firefox Historian, and give me their feedback. In particular, a big thank you to Treena, Kenton, Glenn and Waleed. As everyone is probably aware by now, I’ve started a new project, and it is not Historian; I’m parking this for now. The client side code is downloadable from the original site,; rename the XPI code to .zip to access it.

If you want access to the server side code, please email me. If there is enough interest, I may even open-source it.

My email? It’s shahzad AT-THE-SPECIAL-PLACE the [There that should defeat the spam-slingers]