Conflict of Interest in Open Source and PostgreSQL Replication

Community open source is open source that is not owned by any particular company. Rather, ownership is shared among a large number of diverse stakeholders. Given the right (read: permissive) license, commercial companies can provide extensions to the community project, earning a living. Since such extensions are a unique selling point of these companies, one might think that they would prefer to keep the community project small and limited in features to facilitate an easy upsell to their more comprehensive offering. This thought becomes particularly intriguing given that commercial companies typically hire the core developers of such community projects to bring the necessary expertise in-house, and as some argue, to influence the project to their liking.

I think that this common belief misses the point.

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Bringing Wikipedia to Work: Open Collaboration within Corporations

This upcoming Wikimania 2008 tutorial discusses the three principles of “open collaboration” which I believe are underlying wikis, open source, and other forms of peer production. It is a follow-up to last year’s tutorial about open collaboration at Wikimania 2007.

If the slideshow doesn’t play, please use the PDF file download below.

Reference: Dirk Riehle. “Bringing Wikipedia to Work: Open Collaboration in Corporations.” In Proceedings of Wikimania 2008, forthcoming.

Also available as a PDF file.

Richard P. Gabriel: Photography Workshop at OOPSLA 2008

For your information, a workshop on photographing technical conferences.

Photography Workshop at OOPSLA 2008

Photographing a technical conference well is not a matter of point and shoot, nor is it about taking pictures to share with friends and family. The time is ripe for more serious photojournalism to capture our community’s leaders, its activities, and its human face, and for the use of artistry to tell stories and get people thinking.

In this workshop you will learn basic technical and aesthetic techniques for good photography and good conference photography in particular, and you will practice these techniques during OOPSLA. Work will be critiqued using an artists’ workshop process to enable you to continue learning and improving after the workshop. Participants will attend a full-day of lectures and interactive learning activities as well as photograph Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with short, early morning artists’ workshops on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

You can find out more information here:

Richard P. Gabriel and Kevin Sullivan

Dave Humphrey: New Graduate Program on Linux and Open Source System Administration

For your information, a note from Dave Humphrey on LUX, a new graduate program on Linux and Open Source System Administration at Seneca College, Toronto, ON.

I wanted to let you know about a new graduate program we’re launching in September on Linux and open source system administration. LUX is designed for industry people who want to move into an open source Linux community—we’re partnering with Red Hat and Fedora—and is structured so people can still work while they study.

Dave Humphrey
Professor and Co-Founder
Centre for Development of Open Technology
Seneca College, Toronto

OSS 2.0: Leveraging the Open Source Community for Business

For your information, a research workshop on open source and business.


OSS 2.0 : Leveraging the Open Source community for business

Workshop at OSS 2008 Conference, co-located with IFIP WCC 2008 Milan (Italy)

Deadline for submission: 21st June 2008
Notification of acceptance: 11th July 2008
Final submission due: 25th July 2008
Workshop: 10th September 2008

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Open Source is a Business Strategy not a Business Model

Following up on related discussions, another common confusion in my opinion is to think that “open source” is a business model. It is not. Open source is a business strategy, in support of a business model. You still need to know how to make money, and it doesn’t happen by giving software away for free. That is to say, you need a business model like selling subscription or implementation services.

The most common commercial open source business strategy is the “dual-license strategy” as demonstrated by MySQL, Alfresco, etc. This particular business strategy is mostly a go-to-market strategy, a way by which the commercial open source company penetrates customers and fosters the sale. I’ve blogged about this before here and here.

There is more to say, obviously, and I’m working on it. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Design Pattern Density and Design Maturity

JUnit is a widely-adopted unit testing framework for Java, developed by Kent Beck and Erich Gamma. In their discussion of JUnit 3.8’s design, the authors state:

Notice how TestCase, the central abstraction in the framework, is involved in four patterns. Pictures of mature object designs show this same ‘pattern density’. The star of the design has a rich set of relationships with the supporting players.

The notion of design pattern density has been around forever, but with little serious work being done to refine the idea. I’m calling on all experts (reading this blog…) to tell me whether they agree or disagree with the following statement:

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Bertrand Meyer: Electrical Engineering vs. Computer Science

Bertrand Meyer, at the 40 Years of Software Engineering panel at ICSE 2008, on May 16, 2008, 11:56am: “Electrical engineering is to computer science what making a bed is to making love.” I’m not entirely sure this is true, but it certainly makes for a memorable quote.

UPDATE: I had mentioned my enjoyment of this quote to Prof. Meyer at the conference. A few days later I received an email from him in which he generously (and gracefully) corrects me with the exact statement, which first appeared in his inaugural lecture at ETH Zurich:

We appreciate our debt to electrical engineering, without which there would be no computers. Indeed, computer science is to electrical engineering as the art of making love is to the art of making beds.

Much better, and certainly less crude than my in-the-moment snapshot.

FOSSBazaar: Open Source Under the CIO's Radar Screen: Good or Bad?

Commercial open source has a peculiar sales process. Frequently, when a firm decides to buy (license) a specific type of software like a content management system or a wiki engine, they’ll find that their company already employs multiple solutions, downloaded for free from the Internet. By some measures, this is dangerous to IT governance, as it bypasses corporate purchasing and operating regulations. On the other hand, open source empowers IT users to make their own decisions early on without having to go through lengthy approval processes, keeping them nimble and speedy. So, is commercial open source good or bad for IT operations and the CIO?

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Object-Oriented Software Design Documentation

Software researchers need case studies to validate new tools and methods of object-oriented software design. A good thing to do is to standardize on a set of open source frameworks and libraries that are known and available to everyone. Basically, a benchmark set for new tools and methods in object-oriented software design. JUnit and JHotDraw come to mind.

Most open source frameworks and libraries that are being used in research studies have little original documentation associated with them. However, I as well as others have written up such documentation. Here are those frameworks that I see increasingly being used in scientific studies, as well as any design documentation documentation that I may have provided.

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