Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Wednesday, June 29, 2011

  • Jun 29 / 2011
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technology Down for the Count


This site is experiencing technical difficulty. We are aware of the issue and are working as quick as possible to correct the issue. Please try again in a few moments. “

Yeah, right.

Apache is working on having the DNS direct to Apache’s servers.

” We have other goals, as well, which are defined for us by Apache, necessary to graduate from a Podling:

But we need to do the basic transition. It is moving day for OpenOffice!
We need to pack everything from that we want to keep and bring it over to Apache.”

The licence on Apache’s page already shows as ASL.

I expect there will a considerable period of chaos before there will be fresh release, if for no other reason than the licensing needs a thorough check and this transistion of the website has already hit a glitch. It’s not a good sign.

  • Jun 29 / 2011
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Tidying Up The Desktop

I love messy desktops. I can find anything if I have a search widget and all the current stuff on the top of the piles. The many variations of the GNU/Linux desktop are no problem at all until they become mutually exclusive, locking-in users. We are getting that way with Ubuntu, the most popular distro charging in some direction with its vision of the latest and greatest desktop environment while leaving users to make hard choices: to follow or to leave.

Jack Wallen at Tech Republic has a good article on this subject. see 10 ways the Linux community can fix the mess on the desktop. I don’t think it’s quite as bad as he writes. For instance, I would not agree that Unity should be killed. It is great to have yet another desktop environment. I do think Unity should not be exclusive. Many millions of loyal users of Ubuntu may not want to change desktop environments from GNOME. I think, eventually, Unity may achieve a level of functionality that makes it widely desirable but forcing users to change is undesirable. Users may have to reverse-engineer Ubuntu to put GNOME back or change distros. That is probably a waste of their time, not what IT should be about.

It is quite reasonable to ask all distros to make possible transitions of desktop as smooth as possible. In Debian GNU/Linux, for instance, there are many environments in the repository and all one has to do is choose to make one or the other the default at installation of the distro or any particular environment. The depth of dependencies of Unity make that quite difficult. Should one have to change video drivers to change a GUI, the high-level stuff? I don’t think so.

I am particularly worried about the future of X. X is so useful and flexible that it should not be sidelined. It is important that X runs on good, bad and ugly hardware, something unlikely to work with the latest and greatest video drivers coming down the pipe. A huge fraction of the world’s PCs are able to live on for years thanks to X and GNU/Linux. Change for the sake of the new, rich, commercially current hardware should not be an abuse of the less popular. A desktop ecosystem should not only be judged on how it treats the latest and greatest thing but on how it treats its aged/minority systems.

  • Jun 29 / 2011
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Oh My! Databases are Wonderful, but you Have to Keep Them Secure, Fellows!

A security vulnerability at Groupon was discovered by a fellow using Google to search for database stuff. People are leaving SQL database dumps where the web servers can share them with the world … Talk about leaving the door open.

If you cannot believe this happens try this search of Google: filetype:sql. 266K results. Sob… One file contains the admin password for a WordPress blog as a hash, permitting cracking by brute force. Others are harmless, containing the same information as visible on a website or as a template to distribute software. Others have already been fixed/taken down.

  • Jun 29 / 2011
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Hadoop: Making Money From FLOSS

The Apache Hadoop software library is a framework that allows for the distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of computers using a simple programming model. It is designed to scale up from single servers to thousands of machines, each offering local computation and storage. Rather than rely on hardware to deliver high-availability, the library itself is designed to detect and handle failures at the application layer, so delivering a highly-availabile service on top of a cluster of computers, each of which may be prone to failures.”

So, how do you make money giving software away? Ask HortonWorks:
Bearden insists that Hortonworks will not be a Hadoop consultant. It will provide Hadoop training and high-level support. But at least in the beginning, he says, the company’s primary concern will be expanding the Apache Hadoop project. “As we make Hadoop more consumable as a platform, we create a vast ecosystem of companies and individuals that can build applications on it. Initially, we are going to be focused on the ease-of-consumption and productization of Hadoop for both the enterprise and the ecosystem in general.”

Yes, the world can make its own software and share it. Hadoop is already in use by many players on the web, cloud and just data-processing. From a few (Able Grape search engine for wines) to thousands (Yahoo!) of nodes working together can process a lot of data and keep it safe. The software is sufficiently complex and flexible that training/support should be a lucrative business sufficient in itself to justify the investment in Hadoop. At the same time the whole world benefits from the result.