For those few of you who might have missed this blog, I do apologize. As many of you know, I have moved about three miles down the road to beautiful downtown Felton, about a half-mile south of the traffic light on Highway 9 — say it with me: “That enough directions for Felton.” It has taken me fairly close to a month to unpack and sort out the new place; unpacking included taking things out of boxes, asking “Do I really need this?” And then putting away what I do need and taking what I don’t to the Abbot’s Thrift Store down the street.
But enough about me.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols recently wrote a piece on ZDNet that has caused some brouhaha in Linux and FOSS circles. It’s a classic tempest-in-a-teapot issue: Microsoft — horrors! — is one of the top five corporate contributors to Linux kernel development and, if you just read the headline, it implies that Microsoft is fifth on the list top contributors.
Well, to paraphrase Paul Harvey (you’ll have to google him, kids), here’s the rest of the story: Microsoft is fifth on the list of corporate contributors to the Linux kernel and 15th overall on the list. They’re behind Red Hat, Intel, Novell and IBM on the corporate list, and 15th overall.
While SJVN aptly outlines the scenario which causes Microsoft to come to the table — virtualization — what is not said, but stands out, to me is that between the four corporate contributors ahead of Microsoft and the 15th overall position that Microsoft holds are 10 non-corporate contributors to the kernel, meaning for all intents and purposes, individuals who are working for the greater good and not for some corporate benefit that Linux provides.
I have not had a chance to see the original article on Linux Weekly News from which SJVN bases his column, thanks to not having a subscription. But I would be interested to see who and what is ranked where.
[Also, I’m not going anywhere near remotely bringing up where Canonical is on the list of corporate contributors to the Linux kernel. Uh uh. Not me. No way.]
Of course the FUDmeisters are spinning this for all it’s worth — Stop the presses! Microsoft a top Linux kernel contributor! — but SJVN puts it all in perspective and while it’s certainly decent of the corporate giant from Redmond to help improve Hyper-V and Linux interoperability, it’s not a sign of the apocalypse by any matter of means.
However, as one comment to SJVN’s post points out, you don’t turn your back on a coiled snake.
Watch this space, as well as that snake.
This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.
With the passing of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, I was reminded of the IBM “Prodigy” ad in which he appears. “Prodigy,” quite frankly, is the best tech ad ever — ever (sorry, “1984,” despite Apple’s ad introducing not only the Macintosh but Ridley Scott’s directing prowress) — and it joins Red Hat’s “Truth Happens” (QuickTime / OGG versions) as two short video pieces I show people when talking about GNU/Linux.
The ad is here on YouTube. Take a minute and 33 seconds to watch. I’ll wait. You may want to keep it open in another window to refer back to it.
What occurred to me while watching Wooden tell the kid, “A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, that’s teamwork” (emphasis mine), was that this quote applies not only to basketball in particular or sports in general, but specifically to those participating in making Free/Open Source Software work.
Watching the ad, then, with an eye toward how IBM addresses FOSS allowed me to watch with a new perspective. Other aspects of the ad also draw the same conclusions — pointing to the FOSS paradigm — even though all of those who instruct the lad don’t impart anything that can be directly tied to FOSS.
An anthropologist tells him “Homo habalis was the first to use tools.” It rings true because we are the first to use tools that we can’t actually hold — the digital bits and bytes that course through our hardware and over the World Wide Web.
Harvard professor and Boston police harrassment victim Henry Louis Gates tells the boy, in what I think is the most profound English sentence in the ad, “Collecitng data is only the first step toward wisdom, but sharing data is the first step toward community.” No additional commentary is needed there, and the overwhelming irony of having someone named Gates imparting something so profoundly insightful about the open source paradigm is almost too perfect.
A poet speaks: ” Poetry. There’s not much glory in poetry, only achievement.” Replacing “poetry” with “FOSS programming” is a simple and complete fit.
Even the male narrator says, after the poet: “What he learns, we all learn. What he knows, we all benefit from.” Where have we experienced that before?
Author Sylvia Nassar and actress/director Penny Marshall: Nassar says “One little thing can solve an incredibly complex problem,” and who hasn’t been there scripting or programming? Can I see a show of hands? I thought so. Marshall: “Everything’s about timing, kid.” Indeed.
Skipping over the businessman and the pilot — though the businessman does teach “constant improvement,” which is a FOSS tenet — we get to the heart of the ad: The Latin teacher and the plumber — the intellectual and the worker — both stating profound truths that apply to life in general and FOSS in particular.
The Latin teacher: “Res publica non dominetur,” which translates, as far as I can tell, literally to “(The) thing of the public (let) not be dominated” — more idiomatically, “Don’t let something that belongs to the public get taken over by a despot” (thanks, Willy Smith, for the quote on the translation, from his more eloquent blog on the “Prodigy” ad here). Like the Gates quote, notihng to add here, however I think I’m going to add that phrase to my personal Coat of Arms.
And the plumber, with the most succinct and direct quote: “Plumbing. It’s all about the tools.” Which the same can be said for FOSS: It’s all about the tools.
The others may or may not speak directly to the FOSS paradigm and philosophy, with the remote exception of Muhammad Ali’s chiling yet inspiring two sentences: “Speak your mind. Don’t back down.” I’m trying to find where the guitar player, the soccer player, the astronomer and the pilot fit in, but nevertheless, it seems that seven years ago, IBM did the Free/Open Source Software community a huge favor by producing this ad.
[Thanks again to Willy Smith for his insightful blog, which not only helped me translate the Latin, but also points out better than I do the FOSS nuances of this ad.]
Armonk. Cupertino. Redmond. Santa Cruz.
Of the four aforementioned places, three have iconic status in the history of the personal computer, and the fourth hopefully can reverse its dubious place in the historic footnotes that have yet to be written.
Armonk is where IBM makes its home. Cupertino and Apple are joined forever in an infinite loop at 1 Infinite Loop. Redmond . . . well, the Death Star has to reside somewhere, and the suburb just east of Seattle just happens to be where Microsoft settled in.
Then there’s Santa Cruz, which is the “SC” in the original “SCO,” which at its founding in 1979 was the Santa Cruz Operation.
I live in Santa Cruz — in the mountains of the Santa Cruz County, not near surfing mecca on the shores of Monterey Bay (hence, I don’t pepper the ends of my sentences with duuuuuuuude) — and through SCO’s many metamorphoses, the company no longer has its headquarters in Santa Cruz (to be fair, there’s an SCO office in Scotts Valley, a suburb here which would be more at home in Orange County than Santa Cruz, but I digress).
That’s a good thing, too, because like Berchtesgaden in Germany trying to clean its sullied past as Hitler’s playground, Santa Cruz also has some image problems in GNU/Linux circles thanks to SCO. This occurred to me during an on-line conversation with someone overseas that went like this:
J: Where do you live?
Me: Santa Cruz, California.
J: Santa Cruz? As in SCO?
Me: Um, yeah. But I didn’t live here when SCO was around.
Why did I feel the need to defend Santa Cruz? I don’t know. We have some pretty good software and hardware companies here — Borland started out here, and Seagate still makes its home in Santa Cruz County, as does Allume, which was once called Aladdin Systems and is still based in Watsonville. A plethora of independent developers — like Entrance‘s Tod Landis — write programs on “this side of the hill,” while the Silicon Valley teems with activity on the other side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Open Source and Free Software Reporter, my magazine, is based here, too.
SCO is now based in Utah, which begs the question why they haven’t changed their name to UO, for Utah Operation (and keep those cards and letters — I’ve read the history and know why).