Category Archives: OpenStandards

What’s interesting: Hancom goes Open. A decade of Linux at HP. Open Source not a Business Model.

Recent statements in the world of Open Source and Linux.

Hancom, South Korea’s leading software developer says it will open source its popular word processing software Hangul for community to develop software for mobile devices.

Hancom, the developer of a word-processing program known to Koreans as Hangul and foreigners as HanWord, said this week it will open up the product’s source code so other people can modify it for smart phones, tablet computers and other new gadgets. smart phones, tablets and other new devices. Hangul was adopted by the South Korean government nearly 20 years ago and has been a standard in most South Korean companies too, making the country one of the few places where Microsoft’s Office suite of workplace products has taken a back seat. Nearly all documents by the government, except for those of Korea Intellectual Property Office, are Hangul files, which are known by their “HWP” file extension. Companies and individual users have to either buy the software or download a free ‘HWP viewer’ to be able to read them. A person could open Microsoft Word documents in the Hangul program, but not vice versa.

Read more at WSJ.

Bdale Garbee, HP’s Chief Technologist for Open Source and Linux talks about a decade of Linux at HP and what’s coming up in M&As – perhaps Novell?

“HP is absolutely committed to open source”. Bdale Garbee shares some statistics to back up this claim:
* Over 6,500 HP service employees to implement and support Linux and open source worldwide
* Over 3,000 open source software projects initiated
* Over 2,500 HP developers focused on open source
* Over 1,200 open source printer drivers provided

Read more at OSNews.

Red Hat CEO says open source is not a business model; it’s a way to develop software.

Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat, the oldest and by far the most successful company whose business is based purely around open source, makes no bones about it: “Selling free software is hard,” he says. In fact, he goes further: “Open source is not a business model; it’s a way to develop software.”

Read more in this interview with Glyn Moody at CIO UK. – A Developer’s Viewpoint: A Conversation with Michael Meeks could be so much more, given a less top down approach to project management and a looser rein on developers’ ability to get involved.

Read more at the H Open.

iPhone 4: A game changer. Again.

WWDC 2010

WWDC 2010

Apple’s annual developer conference WWDC started today in San Francisco with the “official” unveiling of the latest iPhone 4 and iOS 4 by Steve Jobs.

In keeping with Apple’s mantra of innovation and usability, iPhone 4, is loaded with smartphone technology firsts. Much awaited features include a front-facing camera together with a rear-facing 5 megapixel camera, 5x digital zoom, HD movie capability, LED flash, 3-axis gyro, compass, high-res retina display, noise cancellation and a larger battery for longer battery life. All these features have added fuel to the ongoing competition between leading smart phone vendors like Apple and Google. But it’s clear that Apple has raised the bar for innovation and usability on the mobile platform yet again.

Apps on the new iPhone which I am excited about include:

1. iBooks: This app which was initially released with the iPad and will now allow reading PDFs and the same copy of any book across multiple Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iTouch).

2. iMovie: For amateur movie makers, we’ll now be able to create, edit and share videos right from the device.

3. FaceTime: Video chat is finally here with FaceTime. Today this app works on wi-fi only. Of course, you need another friend with a iPhone 4 to vchat with. I hope that Mr. Jobs is serious about his proposal to make FaceTime truly an open international standard.

Despite the game changing potential of the new iPhone, the demands of smart apps on this device may be hard to satisfy with the new limited data plans that come with it. Hopefully, as usage of data-intensive apps (e.g VoIP, Maps, Movies, Video) on smart phones goes up, US network carriers will be encouraged to provide more generous plans.

One Small Blip on the Stock Index, One Giant Step for Apple

Apple overtakes Microsoft

Apple overtakes Microsoft (Image credit:

History was made today as Apple overtook Microsoft ($226.3 billion) in market value and became the world’s most valued technology company at $227.1 billion dollars.

iPhones, iPads and iPods have definitely revitalized Apple’s innovative streak. It will be interesting to see how the company maintains its success in the consumer device space as competition from Google, Microsoft, HP and other vendors heats up. And open source is in the middle of it all, as it becomes a favorite tool-chest to surpass the market leader. Android, Chrome, HTML5, CSS3… the list grows as tools of disruption are readied. It’s going to be exciting times ahead especially at WWDC in San Francisco coming up on June 7-11.

Let’s Unlock Our Data

Document Freedom Day March 31, 2010

Document Freedom Day March 31, 2010

Today is Document Freedom Day. It is a day marked around the world for document liberation. It also highlights the importance of using open standards and open data formats for document interchange between everyone who has information to share – between people, schools, businesses and governments.

Progress is being made.

The Open Government Initiative launched last year by the Obama administration is a giant step in implementing open government. Its directives define goals for improving the quality of government information available to the public and for creating a policy framework to build and maintain a culture of open government. At the level of open document and information exchange, real progress is being achieved by completing milestones that track the success of this initiative.

But there are still hurdles to overcome.

In his keynote at OSBC earlier this month, Tim O’Reilly talked about how data lock-in has become a serious challenge to open data. I believe we, and our governments, must even more persistently apply the principles of open source — transparency, collaboration and participation — to free our information and documents from the threat of data lock-in.

At OSCON 2009

OSCON 2009
The O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) moved down from Portland to San Jose this year. Here are some highlights of my experiences at the conference this time.

What did I like?


Why does every open source developer, entrepreneur and evangelist want to be at OSCON every year? More precisely, why do I like to be at OSCON every year :-) It’s because of the community – the community around open source. OSCON continues to be the only open source technology conference in the US where everyone can meet their friends, colleagues and fellow community members to talk technology and discuss where open source is heading. OSCON still manages to attract the combined free and open source community. There are developers, community activists, and leading technologists from local and global open source projects and organizations, all interested in leveraging open source software and in practicing collaborative innovation.

What did I find really interesting?

Open Source in Education

Anyone involved in open source advocacy today will include “open source in education” as one of their top priorities. The global message is clear – there is a shortage of talent to support open source software. It is the education systems across the world which need to produce these needed resources. A couple of talks at OSCON – ‘Educating Students in 21st Century Skills via FOSS’ and ‘New Ways for Teaching Children Software Programming’ featured experts who relayed their experiences and reviewed best practices in teaching open source technologies in high schools and universities in the US.

Open Government: Transparency = Open Source + Open Standards + Open Data

Tim O’Reilly, publisher and owner of O’Reilly Media, started the discussions on Open Government at OSCON with his keynote which highlighted efforts of the new Obama administration to promote open data and open source software for equal access to information. O’Reilly also talked about the new advocacy group – “Open Source for America” which will focus on lobbying the US government to use open source software. There were also some excellent panel discussions on open government which discussed issues of open data, transparency and the practicalities of working with government. Personally, having worked for many years on technology projects with government agencies and witnessed first-hand the fast pace at which agencies have absorbed open source technologies – it was very interesting to witness the current spike in enthusiasm among the Silicon Valley technorati to engage in public-private partnerships to work with the federal government. In the panel, ‘Open Source / Open Government’ – moderated by my colleague at the Open Source Initiative (OSI), Danese Cooper – Brian Behlendorf spoke of the sometimes frustrating effort required to work with various agencies. The panel provided valuable insight into the tough process of trying to implement open government in real organizations. The second panel on ”Bureaucrats, Technocrats and Policy Cats: How the Government is turning to Open Source, and Why’ presented Oregon state initiatives such as DemocracyLab, Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON) and Open Source Digital Voting Foundation (OSDV). This panel offered a snapshot of changes that open source software has enabled in public policy, government, and education.

Digital Media, Publishing, Open Source

The age of digital media has arrived. News on paper has to co-exist with the Internet. And OSCON sessions on how paper and digital are working together using open source were well presented by New York Times (NYT) as well as by National Public Radio (NPR). David Gottfrid of the New York Times did a great session on the NYT’s goals to share their content online and their APIs for opening up their digital content – news stories, audio podcasts, blogs and opinions. Excellent material to build some great data mashups. Another interesting talk on mainstream media going online, was by Adam Martin of National Public Radio (NPR) who walked through NPR Digital’s open APIs for sharing their audio podcasts and online content. Grey areas still exist such as licensing of content for non commercial vs. commercial usage as well as their choice to not use CC licenses for content distribution. There were many questions about what non-commercial usage is. What if someone’s personal blog uses Google Ads on their site? What if someone mashes up NPR audio with their own commentary and spreads disinformation? Boundaries of usage are still unclear and being worked out by these organizations.

Social Good: Making a Change with Open Source

My friend Zaheda Bhorat organized a diverse group of projects showcasing how open standards and open source software are helping to generate social benefits today. The presenters for three different projects – Paul Rademaker from, Adam Lerer from Open Data Kit (an Android based system helping community healthcare workers in Kenya and Uganda) and Greg Norris of – talked about how their projects are using open source software, open data and open standards to make an impact in the areas of volunteering, poverty eradication, healthcare and climate change.

Technology Trends

Other sessions that I enjoyed attending included “State of Lightning Talks” hosted by Josh Berkus to get a 5 minute snapshot of active open source projects – from PGSQL, Drupal, OpenOffice to newcomers such as MariaDB, R language, and MongoDB. Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation delivered the closing keynote for the conference on Friday afternoon. It was an interesting talk about Zemlin’s projections on how Linux was fast becoming the default choice for peripheral hardware producers. Linux has helped Asian hardware vendors maintain their margins in a high volume business. These vendors use Linux for its technology as well as to avoid Microsoft license fees. He also predicted that Apple’s AppStore model was going to become pervasive with every hardware vendor having their own store to reduce fees that have to be paid to third parties. Jim offered another projection about the netbook revolution coming to the US in the next 6 months, with ATT launching a $50 netbook based VOIP service.

Three things that I felt were well done at OSCON

  • Excellent content on emerging topics: I liked the breadth and depth of new and emerging topics such as open government, climate change, social good.
  • Good expo interaction with excellent talks from companies (e.g. Intel talk on Moblin) and some excellent organizations in both the dot org and for-profit sections.
  • Snacks, healthy as well as not-so-healthy, in the expo hall sponsored for every break ;-)

Three things that I’d like to see at OSCON

  • New speakers; New topics: Fresh faces and new topics can always help invigorate a conference.
  • More participation: Attendance was estimated at about 2000 people by the organizers this year. In the vastness of the San Jose convention center, the crowds seemed smaller. Maybe lower registration fees would help in these times of recession. Lower fees could also help OSCON compete with low cost or free unconferences that are gaining in popularity.
  • More water please: All attendees would benefit from more water dispensers in the hallways and expo hall.

Technology Leaders Welcome US CTO Aneesh Chopra

US CTO Announced

US CTO Announced

Aneesh Chopra is the first US Federal Chief Technology Officer. He’s 37 years old, a Harvard graduate, a successful CTO at the state level, and an American of Indian origin. A crescendo of praise for this new star is rising. But it is also raising up every technology leader’s wish-list for fresh consideration by the top US technology policy and implementation machinery. From big bloggers like Tim O’Reilly to Intel’s Craig Barrett to VC Vinod Khosla, everyone has admiration… and expectations.

Mr. Chopra is reported to understand the power of today’s new trends in the technology ecosystem – collaboration, open content and the Internet. He‘s in a position to make wise choices among competing IT agendas, where both action and vision matter. Let’s hope he applies the best information technologies to the real problems he’s mandated to solve. For the benefit of all of us.

Gaining Political Capital for Open Source in India

Open Source in India

Open Source in India

Open source software has made it to the information technology plans of the political machinery in India. With national elections just around the corner in April and May, everyone in India’s multi-party system is looking for alliances, marriages, deals — any arrangement — to ensure their next win. And everyone is customizing their PR machinery to appeal to the millions of voters in both rural and urban areas – trying to fit the shoe to the appropriate foot.

On March 14th, one of India’s major opposition groups – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced an Information Technology Vision that mentions open source software in two contexts – one of open standards and the other of open source in education. The plan urges the “Government of India to standardize on ‘open standard’ and ‘open source’ software.” It also suggests that “an IT standards-setting body would be spun out of BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards).” The plan further promotes using open source software to expand eEducation, to enable building a Rs.10,000 laptop and to spread innovation in the nation’s academic community.

Noble ideas that would represent giant steps for open source software adoption in India!

In close succession to the BJP’s announcement, another power bloc led by the Communist Party of India – CPI (Marxist) announced their manifesto on March 16th. This proposal for reform in science and technology includes some loaded statements listed below which seem to reinforce a collective model for using open source software and banning software patents.

“…promoting free software and other such new technologies, which are free from monopoly ownership through copyrights or patents;
… the promotion of a “knowledge commons” across disciplines, like biotechnology and drug discovery…..
… scrapping the public funded R&D Bill, that seeks to allow patenting of products that are developed through public funded laboratories…
… revamping the functioning of the Patent offices to ensure strict adherence to the Indian Patent Act;
… stop training and orientation of Indian Patent office personnel by the US and European Patent offices.”

The ruling coalition led by the Congress Party, in its manifesto released on March 24th, talks about using IT to expand educational institutions, to improve connectivity infrastructure and to provide citizen IDs. It does not yet address the opportunities offered to India by open source software but perhaps a little more encouragement could do the trick.

Credit must be given to India’s leaders in the open source software community. They have fought for, motivated and architected inclusion of open source software into the vision statements of some of the major political parties of India. The best of our tireless warriors fighting to gather political capital for open source have included Venkatesh Hariharan of Red Hat, Jaijit Bhattacharya of Sun Microsystems and Ashish Gautam of IBM.

Open Source in India Today

Open Source in India

Open Source in India

There is a lot happening around the world in open source. And open source is becoming more mainstream in the Indian economy. A variety of interests on the part of government, industry and academia are encouraging adoption of open source software in India. Demand for open source has followed the increase in demand for information technologies in all sectors. Liberalization in procurement policy has also contributed to the demand for open source solutions. Industry, academia and community groups are providing training for open source software skills. All of these trends indicate that India is poised to begin to leverage open source software in a bigger way.

Read more in my recent article on about what’s happening in India.

FOSS seminar by IOTA Kolkata on Dec 26-28

IOTA Kolkata

IOTA Kolkata

The Institute for Open Technology and Applications (IOTA) will be holding its “Freedom in Computer Technology” seminar later this month at Science City in Kolkata on December 26-28. This seminar aims to promote FOSS in West Bengal and is targeted at state policy makers, industry professionals and academics from Kolkata and neighboring areas. Panel discussions and sessions on open source technologies, business models, licensing, standards and open hardware are on the program. FSF has announced a 3 hour talk ;-) on ‘Copyright vs. Community’ by RMS at the event on Dec 26. If you’re able to attend, please send me feedback about the event.

IOTA’s charter includes promotion of FOSS in government and academia and was founded in 2007. Supported by Sun Microsystems India and Red Hat India, IOTA seeks to provide information on FOSS and open standards to organizations looking to understand how open source can fit into their IT infrastructure. IOTA’s resource center at Jadavpur University also offers training on Linux and Open Office. It would be great to see more quality training on other components of the LAMP stack from IOTA as well as more community participation from ILUG-Cal and other local groups.

Red Hat CEO James Whitehurst in India

Red Hat’s CEO James Whitehurst is currently on his first trip to India since he took over from Matthew Szulik last December. Whitehurst is to meet with top industry and government leaders. He is also scheduled to meet with members of the open source community as well as famous academics such as Dr. Deepak Phatak of IIT Bombay.

In an interview in Mumbai, Whitehurst hoped that open source software adoption would continue to grow as more e-governance projects are sanctioned. India’s central government continues to increase its investment to make IT services accessible to a larger percentage of people in rural and small town communities. Red Hat India continues to focus on growing Linux and open source deployment in four key markets in India – government, BFSI, telecom and education.

Localization and Open Standards

Other areas that Whitehurst sees as big ticket items for India are local language localization and adoption of open standards. Both these areas are crucial for supporting large e-governance projects. Red Hat India continues to make serious contributions to language localization by incorporating support for 11 Indian languages in RHEL and Fedora. Languages that are fully supported include Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Telegu and Tamil. Whitehurst reiterated the need for localization in helping reduce the digital-divide in India.

Whitehurst highlighted Red Hat’s efforts to promote open standards as a dynamic that could change society in the long run. Red Hat has made significant headway in lobbying for adoption of open standards by the central government. India voted against OOXML in favor of ODF earlier this year at ISO. However, despite objections against OOXML, it was approved by ISO as an international standard in August. Appeals from Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela that stemmed from irregularities surrounding the approval process were rejected by ISO.

India’s Fedora Community

Whitehurst also praised the Indian Fedora community for actively working on Fedora. India has the third largest group of contributors to the Fedora project. 26 contributors (many of whom work for Red Hat India) are listed on the Fedora project wiki.