Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Vaibhaw Pandey

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Meet the Perens

Joe Barr catches up with former HP Linux strategist Bruce Perens

(LinuxWorld) — If you've kept one eye open watching industry news the past week or two, you've seen the stories about Bruce Perens and his open-source licensed book series with Prentice Hall. I'll get in a few words on that book series later in the column, but first I'll try to put things in context.

Bruce Perens is a fascinating individual, and he probably knows his way around the suit side of the house better than any other leading figure in the free/open-source software movements. I had the chance to visit with Perens for nearly an hour last week. I couldn't help but get off-topic. In addition to the books, I was supposed to be talking to him about his consulting work, grants and donations — you know, the things he has been doing to try to keep food on the table since his departure from HP.

However, as I mentioned, Perens is very interesting. The more I asked him, the more I wanted to hear his thoughts on other things. If he hadn't had to keep an appointment with the New York Times a half-hour after our interview was supposed to end, I might still be asking him questions.

Choosing his departure from HP last fall as the starting point, I asked Perens if he had any regrets about his HP experience. He said, "My two years at HP was just a great time, overall. My only regret is that it couldn't go on longer." Later, he added: "One of the very nice things about the HP position was that they gave me a reasonably nice salary and pretty much let me do what I felt like. It's harder now in that I have to go out there and sell my own services." Perens has a wife (Valerie) and a son (Stanley) to feed as well as himself. As many of you are intimately aware, the current economy doesn't make this the most affluent of times.

His consulting company is just getting off the ground. His clients (they must remain anonymous for the moment) are companies and industry organizations that want to get more involved with free/open-source software. His experience at HP, where he pretty much wrote the book on corporate guidance in this strange new world, can be translated easily for other environments. Perens invites all such firms who "don't want to fall into the pitfalls that might be obvious to us but not to them" or who might need assistance to successfully "negotiate all of this licensing quagmire" to contact him.

Perens is also working with the Cyber Security Policy Institute at George Washington University. I had to ask exactly what the Institute was all about. "The Cyber Security Policy Institute just does grant-based work and comments on government software security policies," Perens explained.

Why is that important? So that free/open source software isn't trapped by a Hollings-type bill requiring the use of Palladium in all government computers, for one. Such an eventuality would be a very bad thing for the free/open-source communities. Microsoft, of course, is adamant about the use of free/open-source software in government: they feel it shouldn't be allowed.

Microsoft and the Mitre Report

An example in near real-time: the Mitre Report (See Resources for a link to this 60-page report in PDF format). Perens told me "Microsoft got extremely upset about this report and actually caused the report to be held back for six months. It was very interesting. Microsoft actually had so many criticisms of the Mitre Report that their general counsel is now given first credit in the attributions of the report because he contributed so much text."

However, Microsoft could not change the report's conclusion: removing free/open-source software would be very detrimental to the Department of Defense. The study, by the way, was conducted at the request of DISA, the DOD's IT folk. Its genesis was concern over proprietary licenses, which might ban the use of free/open-source software at the DOD. The study not only found widespread usage (more than a hundred free/open-source projects) in the DOD, it also reached the following conclusion:

The main conclusion of the analysis was that FOSS [free and open-source software] plays a more critical role in the DoD than has generally been recognized. FOSS applications are most important in four broad areas: Infrastructure Support, Software Development, Security, and Research...

Taken together, these factors imply that banning FOSS would have immediate, broad, and strongly negative impacts on the ability of many sensitive and security-focused DoD groups to defend against cyber attacks.

Perens, by the way, is at work on a response to heavy criticism of FOSS by Microsoft's Software Choice campaign, which is desperately trying to persuade the unwary that freedom is a bad thing, at least when it comes to software.

The Cyber Security Policy Institute will give Perens an opportunity to earn money by writing grants and doing the grant work, but it has its limits. For one thing, because George Washington University is a 501(C)3 organization, it cannot engage in lobbying. That's where the Global Policy Institute comes in. It allows Perens to engage in that activity. The Global Policy Institute Web site also provides a vehicle for the community to help support Perens in his efforts through PayPal. Perens says this money doesn't go into his pocket, it just helps pay for travel expenses. He does travel a bit. Very recently, he went to Denmark, Belgium, Norway and Boston on a single trip to speak to various groups about open source.

Now, about those books. The Bruce Perens series published by Prentice Hall is already at Barnes and Noble. At least the first two titles are; the third will be there in March. The series is the first of its kind to be covered by an open license (it's not the first book to have an open license, but it's the first series).

"These are print books," Perens said. "Everything is treated exactly like any other print book at Prentice Hall. We pay people the same, we wholesale them the same, all the way through."

A few months after publication, however, the books go online in an open-source manner. "We don't think that most people read their books on the screen, so we don't see that as a tremendous revenue drain," Perens noted.

What's needed for the series? Just about anything to do with free/open-source software. If you want to write a title in the series, just send Perens an e-mail at [email protected]. Perens asks that you include a writing sample and a book proposal with an outline, if possible. The main thing is not to just sit on top of a good idea.

The hour passed too quickly. The conversation had wandered to such diverse topics as how a hot-headed journalist like myself (Perens, apparently straight-faced: "Oh, why would you say that, Joe?") could attract lobbyists like Perens to work their magic on the Texas state legislature, fraudulent practices by the Business Software Alliance, the debate over the use of a proprietary tool in Linux kernel development, who will be the first tier-one OEM to offer Linux desktop preloads in the US, and a final timely and incendiary topic: TCO studies. Those random subjects don't fit neatly into the category of "What is Perens up to now?" They do make for a great column all by themselves. That's what we'll be serving next week in the second half of this Perens extravaganza.

More Stories By Joe Barr

Joe Barr is a freelance journalist covering Linux, open source and network security. His 'Version Control' column has been a regular feature of Linux.SYS-CON.com since its inception. As far as we know, he is the only living journalist whose works have appeared both in phrack, the legendary underground zine, and IBM Personal Systems Magazine.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.