Thursday, May 31, 2007

Banks Want to Swim With the Penguins

The Bulls and the Bears may soon be standing on the unemployment line.

Tux the penguin, Linux's beloved mascot, is rapidly becoming the financial services industry's totem animal of choice. In fact, it seems that the only steadily rising statistic on Wall Street these days is the number of companies moving to open-source systems.

"Linux is probably the only good news that we've had in the financial industry over the past couple of years," said Keith Codell, a systems administrator for a Wall Street firm. "Linux is reliable -- it never crashes, it's secure. Wouldn't it be sweet if the market was more like Linux?"

Linux's influence on the banking and investment industry is expected to broaden this week, with the introduction of a Linux-based system that will provide some of the world's biggest banks and investment firms with the data and news they use to make trading decisions.

Reuters announced on Monday that its popular Reuters Market Data System, or RMDS, has been ported to Linux, in response to what Reuters spokespeople described as "intense customer demand."

"The call for RMDS for Linux has been astounding," said Peter Lankford, head of real-time content-management systems for Reuters. "And the response from our beta testers, even those who initially dismissed Linux as 'experimental technology,' has been overwhelmingly positive.

"They saw performance improvements and cost savings. These folks are bankers, and they know you almost never get more for less -- but this time they did."

Reuters began beta testing RMDS for Linux in October. Lankford wouldn't reveal names, but said the RMDS beta was tested in six of the world's largest financial institutions.

"I have to admit I was shocked at the complete lack of negative feedback," Casey Merkey, global program manager for RMDS on Linux. "You always get negative feedback in beta tests."

Merkey said that even the customers who were not convinced they wanted to use a Linux system converted quickly once they started using it.

"Some of our more challenging customers suddenly became my very best friends," he said.

Financial industry heavyweights such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman Sachs Group and E-Trade have all announced major Linux deployments in recent months.

Anyone who attended this year's LinuxWorld tradeshow in New York noticed that many attendees appeared to have been bussed in directly from Wall Street.

Lankford said banks and investment houses are turning to Linux as a way to save money and improve performance and reliability.

"Financial institutions are sending their vendors a very clear message," Lankford said. "They need to reduce costs. To survive in the current economic climate they want open systems that lower total cost of ownership without comprising flexibility or increasing risk.

"Or, as the saying goes, 'It's the economy, stupid,'" Lankford said. "They spend less, and they get more. What could be better than that?"

"Better is exactly the point," said Mike Evans, vice president of business development with Red Hat. "You've got thousands of the best programmers in the world poring over Linux code, incorporating everything that we've all learned about how to build a better operating system.

"Yes, Linux is more cost-effective. It's highly efficient and rock solid too. It's a modern operating system."

Reuters worked with Hewlett-Packard, Red Hat and Intel to create a Linux-compliant version of RMDS that runs on Intel-based servers.

"Somehow, people don't seem to realize HP is so deeply involved with open source," said Judy Chavis, HP's worldwide director of Linux. "When we first began talking with Reuters, I think their people were surprised that we even knew how to spell Linux."

by Michelle Delio
Article Here

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sun pledges patents to defend Linux

In a surprise move Sun Microsystems CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, said the company was ready to use the company's extensive patent portfolio to help defend Red Hat and Ubuntu Linux against Microsoft's patent threat.

In a post on his blog, Schwartz compared the changing world of software to that of the printed media.

"There are all kinds of interesting parallels between the newspaper industry and the software industry. Both are undergoing tremendous change, creating havoc for some and opportunity for others. The industries have much in common - minimally, they're both rooted in creative writers (journalists and developers)."

The new challenge for the printed media, he writes, comes as the industry moves from strict editorial control to a range of user-generated content.

The one option, he says, is that the printed media can embrace these new changes. Alternatively, "they could sue the new technology media companies, claim they're stealing readers by violating patents held by traditional media. Imagine, 'We patented text in columns! Classified ads in boxes! Captions on pictures! Headlines in large type!' But they'd be suing the community - the moral equivalent of suing subscribers - stepping over the line of editor, into the role of censor. And censoring free media is a particularly awkward plea for those that believe in freedom of the press. Few have sued. Most, but not all, have evolved, through competition, acquisition, reorganization or rebirth. Those that failed to adapt have deservedly perished."

The software industry is going through exactly the same transition, says Schwartz:

"Our biggest competitor became, in the late 1990s, a product built by a company that aggregated and organised software from the open source community. They built little of their own, they relied on the software equivalent of community content, or free and open source software.

"Could we have sued them? Sure. Sun has what I'd argue to be the single most valuable and focused patent portfolio on the web (and yes, we'd use it to defend Red Hat and Ubuntu, both). But suing the open source community would've been tantamount to a newspaper suing the authors of their letters to the editor. We would've been attempting to censor rather than embrace a free press. It might have felt good at the time, but it wouldn't have addressed the broader challenge - community content was becoming more interesting to our customers than our professional content."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Here's the Open Invention Networks (OIN) statement about Microsoft's so-called patent infringements against Linux:

A recent article in Fortune Magazine raises - or more precisely, re-raises - tired, old allegations about the Linux operating system for the sole purpose of perpetuating unwarranted fear, uncertainty and doubt among current and potential Linux users and distributors.

This is not the first time that unsubstantiated claims of patent infringement have been leveled at Linux. Moreover, just as in the past, these claims are made without disclosing any evidence. It's time to stop the accusations and show the evidence. What's happening with these accusers is the equivalent of declaring four aces while being unwilling to show even a pair of deuces.

It's clear that these accusations are actually an admission of the rapid uptake of Linux in the marketplace, Linux' success in displacing legacy products of competitors and that Linux provides superior software in performance, security and stability.

Here are some facts to provide clarity around Linux and patents:

* There never has been a patent lawsuit against Linux. Never.
* Linux has excellent intellectual property vetting.
* Linux has thousands of high-quality, dedicated programmers.
* Linux creates a robust, secure computer operating environment.

In less than a year, OIN has accumulated more than 100 strategic, worldwide patents and patent applications that span Web / Internet, e-commerce, mobile and communications technologies. These patents are available to all as part of the free Linux ecosystem that OIN is creating around, and in support of Linux. We stand ready to leverage our IP portfolio to maintain the open patent environment OIN has helped create."

Emphasis added. In short, they will respond to any legal threat. It's part of what OIN was set up to do. It's not like the bad old days, when Microsoft could just walk onto the playground and everyone ran away in fear or burst into tears. Linux folks have been expecting this for a long time and have used the time to prepare. Nobody is crying or running away.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Balmer's Patent War

The Linux Foundation is preparing to defend any Linux user who is charged with violating Microsoft's patents. Microsoft's strong-arm, racketeering statements to Fortune Magazine yesterday stated that 235 of its patents are violated by various forms of open source code. There have been hundreds of cases against Microsoft that range from patent violations to anti-trust issues, why there is even a racketeering charge against the Redmond Mafia now. Three months ago a jury awarded a $1.52 billion patent judgment in favor of Alcatel-Lucent against Microsoft over the use of MP3 codices.

In another case, Microsoft was also found guilty in a $521 million patent infringement ruling over how Internet Explorer handled embedded content. It is Microsoft's software that is full of patent infringements and not Linux. In the past three years, Microsoft paid out more than $4 billion dollars in settlements and court awards for infringing on other peoples patents.

Microsoft is afraid of identifying any of these so called 235 patents because if they did, the Linux community would be able to show that their claims are invalid and unenforceable. Their claims are nothing more then an attempt to keep there anti-consumer monopolies going. After all, Microsoft Office is there greatest cash pig (cow). Microsoft is just trying to protect their crap-ware, because it yields $30 plus million a day. Just look at SCO, we all know what happened there.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Microsoft's words to live by...

Way to go Microsoft.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

No Win32 API for you

There's something of a buzz going on within the world of IT concerning MS Windows Vista, which apparently restricts GNU GCC executables to 32MB. Is this by design or a bug? But, knowing Balmer's hatred for all users of Free Open Source Software. Well you know....

Executables created for the Wintel environment, using the GNU GCC compilers and language standards (but not linking to the Win32 API), are subject to failure (or performance degradation) when executed in Microsoft Windows Vista, because Vista arbitrarily restricts the memory space for the GCC executable to 32 MB (33,554,432 bytes).

Attempts to allocate more memory than this using the malloc(...) function (or related functions, such as calloc(...)) will fail. This limitation applies whether the application is executed with the Run command, within a Command Prompt box (DOS box), or with the Start command. This limitation does not appear in Windows XP, Windows 98SE, or standalone DOS; the exact same executable, running under Windows XP SP2 or Win98SE, is capable of allocating several hundred megabytes of physical memory (if present on the machine). The limitation appears to apply to any compiler and linker not employing Microsoft's proprietary Win32 API.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Zero Touch Linux Server Packages
(every-thing's included, even the kitchen sink)

Linux users wanting a quickly-configurable Linux server image that could handle a number of enterprise computing tasks, might want to get the latest version of Zero Touch Linux in the test lab.

The free software package, produced by online security services firm Comodo, includes an array of open source software stacks, Web, e-mail, DNS, database, file/print and firewall. Comodo installs all the packages onto Linux operating system image, and offers the whole thing up for free. Past versions of the system used the Trustix Linux distribution — a highly-secure version of Linux often used on machines running Linux-based firewalls, IDS/IPS, or other critical systems. The latest iteration of Zero Touch Linux now includes pre-installed CentOS and Red Hat-based images.

Zero Touch Linux includes a GUI-based administration tool to configure and tune all settings across all the applications packaged on the server, with Apache Web server, MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, IPtables firewalls and BIND DNS, among the services. A setup tool with the software also allows users to strip out packages unnecessary to the server's deployment task.

The software provides three levels of system access: Admin Level: for server management, Web site/domain creation and package installation; Domain Level: which allows for basic administration of services, such as Web, mail or database; and End User: which provides a simple Web interface, e-mail access (SquirrelMail is the Web-based mail server), and file uploading and downloading.

Get the latest software download for Zero Touch Linux here.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Don't be afraid, Linux isn't just for geeks

It came out earlier this week that Dell will soon offer computers running Linux instead of Windows. Not all of its machines, obviously — the company wants to stay in business — but Linux will be an option on at least two desktops and one laptop models.

It's going to be an interesting experiment. Linux is an incredibly powerful operating system, but it's a tinkerers' OS designed to let you get under the hood. There is also a huge base of developers who are coming up with new features, new software, and better ways to do things.

Older versions of Linux were strictly the province of geeks who wanted to play. But for the past several years there's been a large and growing movement to make it accessible to the non-geek — to make it as user-friendly as Windows, but with the power of the Linux community behind it.

The version of Linux Dell will be offering, Ubuntu (it's pronounced "oo-boon-too"), is one of the most popular, user-friendly, and well-designed versions — or distros —available. It's got all of Linux's power and stability, it's completely free (as is most of the software available for it), it's tweakable, and it's — mostly — easy to use.

But "mostly" is the key.

For me, part of determining whether Linux is ready for prime-time is whether it would pass the Minandeli test. That refers to my parents, Min and Eli, who are no longer novice Windows users, but far from experts. Could they use Linux?

That in mind, a few weeks ago I set out to play with the latest versions of some Linux distros. The four at the top of my list were Ubuntu and its sister, Kubuntu, as well as OpenSUSE and PCLinuxOS, all of which were reportedly well designed and easy to use.

Alas, the PCLinuxOS download sites were offline and OpenSUSE didn't like my monitor, so I spent my time with Ubuntu and Kubuntu. (They're based on the same underlying code, but have different desktops, analogous to hatchback and sedan versions of the same car.)

Conveniently, Dell played right into my hands by choosing to offer a Linux distro that I had an opportunity to use.

Smooth operators

Let no one say that Linux — specifically Ubuntu and Kubuntu — isn't a beautiful, mature operating system. It installs quickly and easily.

A Windows or Mac user would feel quickly at home, and would enjoy some of Linux's nicer features, such as my favorite: multiple desktops you can switch among.

And Windows has nothing on Adept, Linux's add and remove programs feature. It doesn't just help you remove unwanted programs. It also gives you access to hundreds of pieces of software — from simple games to powerful office applications — stored in online libraries called repositories. It's like having a huge software store at your fingertips, where everything is free.

And that's where you get the first inkling of Linux's weak spots. There are two facts about Linux that deeply affect the user experience. First, there is a huge and dedicated Linux development community. This is good and bad.

If you thought the amount of software that's preinstalled on a new Windows computer was bad, Ubuntu will knock you over. Sure, it's nice having all those free programs at your disposal (unlike what's on a lot of Windows systems, this stuff isn't trialware). But for someone just getting his feet wet on a new operating system it's what psychology professor Barry Schwartz famously termed " a tyranny of choice."

Want to play music? There are 11 music players to choose from, including Audacious, JuK, and Quark. Need a text editor? Would you prefer GTKedit, Kate, KEdit, KWrite, Leafpad, Mousepad, or xae? All are available with a click or two from the gigantic repository.

If you want to install something that's not in the repositories, though, you might run into another non-Windows-like aspect of Linux. It's much more modular than Windows, so many programs need other software in place in order to work — something called "dependencies."

Thus when I tried to install the Cinelerra video editor, I had to first install some other things, and some of those needed things as well. Had my geek gene not been expressing itself, it would have been impossible.

Linux users are comfortable with this, judging by a comment in an article written earlier this year about Cinelerra: "...installation is simple: I add the correct Cinelerra repository for my CPU, along with the Debian Multimedia repository, to my /etc/apt/sources.list file, then update and install Cinelerra."

Linux folks are some of the best tinkerers on the planet, so this kind of stuff is second nature to them. My parents, not so much.

And while Linux itself — especially the version Dell will offer — is slick, much of the software available for it is not. It lacks the polish of many of the applications you'll find for Windows and the Mac.

The GIMP, the Linux image editor on par with Photoshop, really isn't on par at all. Yes, you can do most of the same things, but if you're coming over from the Adobe product you'll find The GIMP rough around the edges, to say the least.

And if you want to do video editing, forget it. There are a handful of programs available, notably Kino and Cinelerra, but neither works as smoothly as, say, Sony Vegas or even Adobe Premiere.

The best office suite for Linux is, which is very, very good ... but, again, a step below Microsoft Office when it comes to smoothness and polish.

Is Linux a viable desktop option if you're buying a Dell computer? Absolutely, as long as you're not interested in video editing (and you image-editing needs are limited), and as long as you're willing to put up with rough edges in exchange for a free operating system, freedom from just about any virus, and the potential to tinker to your heart's content.

By Andrew Kantor
Read more of his work at

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Apple iPhone Presentation Part 1

The Apple iPhone Presentation Part 2