Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Automic Blog, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Meet the Perens (Part 2): Secret preloads, Bitkeeper and TCO

Joe Barr continues his dialogue with former HP Linux strategist Bruce Perens

(LinuxWorld) — Here it is, just as promised. This is the conclusion of the Perens extravaganza begun last week. This week's column is made up of excerpts from my conversation with Perens two weeks ago. The conversation followed no set course. My questions were not pre-ordained; they wandered over the Linux terrain like it was a cow-path in Texas. But Perens' responses were lucid, well-informed and very interesting. I have trimmed and edited the conversation a bit in order to pack as much of it as I could into this week's space.

Lobbying for change

LW: Let's say that I, as a hot-headed journalist, wanted to see the Texas Legislature enact new legislation that would make EULAs subordinate to the constitution and not the other way around. Where customers could not be assumed guilty and have to prove their innocence, but rather enjoy the normal way of things under the law. How could I motivate you and other lobbyists to encourage such a thing?

Perens: You know, that is an interesting question. We have jackbooted federal marshals accompanying the BSA into your company to audit them. But first of all, contracts are still governed by state and federal law, and there is still an assumption of innocence until proven guilty.

What is happening is that through various legal "gotcha's" that are incorporated in the EULA, or in things that are deceptively sent to companies, they are getting a company to waive a legal right: the right to privacy.

They send you a postcard and ask you if you want to know about licensing. If anyone in your company signs it and returns it, it actually gives them authority to come in and audit your company. I don't have direct experience with it, and if you go look into the press on BSA you will find out about this one. They target low-level employees in your company, and it sounds on the postcard like it's a seminar on software licensing. But if someone checks "Yes, I'm interested", then somewhere in the fine print it's actually an invitation to come and audit the software licensing for the company.

So that is the dodge they are using, and as a hot-headed journalist, I would suggest that you study that particular thing more and bring it up with your Texas politicians. Because it seems to me that there is some degree of deception — or may I say fraud — going on there.

It helps a lot to get very specific about these things, rather than just say contracts should be subordinate to the constitution rather than vice versa, because if you were to say that to a politician he would just say "Well, I thought they were." So you really need examples of where the law is being bent. You have to get extremely specific.

But I think that what you were suggesting may not always be the best thing for us. If you go back and look at UCITA, UCITA was actually an effort to do just that, to pretty much spell out certain of the terms that could be offered in software licensing, where a number of parties felt that there was a need for reform.

The Bitkeeper debate on LKML

LW: Have you kept up with the Bitkeeper debate on the Linux kernel mailing list? (Richard) Stallman and Larry McVoy have been going at it lately.

Perens: I sent you something about Larry a year or so ago, I think I just shocked you with it. Every time I talk with Larry he threatens to sue me, so I just don't talk with Larry any more. I think that he is just the perfect person to be in an argument with RMS. I actually have known Larry since he was seven. I used to live down the street from him.

I think that [the Bitkeeper debate] is an interesting situation because Linus seemed to need the technical help, and the technical help seems to be working. Larry very definitely feels that he cannot support his family with this product as an open-source product. In fact, he's hardly able to support his family with it as a "not-open-source" product. He claims that making payroll every week is a real pull. It's said to be good; I've obviously never tried it.

There are people working on open-source alternatives. One would be subversion. There was a fellow named Tom Lord who made a program called arch. Tom, unfortunately, has not been able to continue with that due to personal reasons — not due to the product, which is still a really great product. I haven't really heard from anyone who has picked it up. Had he been able to continue, I think that would have been something capable of competing with Bitmover.

So I am disappointed. I think that the Linux kernel team should get away from Bitkeeper as soon as there is something else that can do the job — in fact, even if it doesn't do the job quite as well. If I were a business person... I'm very sorry, but my previous interaction with Larry has been just so crazy that he is not the person I would pick to do business with.

Generally, I like the open-source world to not have to fall back on proprietary software. I think that something is wrong when we do.

I think that the Linux kernel project, a very visible open-source project, [can't] just go to the public and say "Here, open-source development can't even support itself" [and] we have to go rely on some non-open-source tool to do it. So I find this all a very distressing situation.

In every case I am asked by people who want to make their proprietary tools available for free use by the open-source community, my usual answer is "Don't bother." I've said that to some rather big companies that make compilers. I've said that it's a mistake for the open-source community to make itself dependent on a tool that we cannot necessarily maintain, do not know if we can continue with its use, and cannot develop by ourselves.

I discourage open-source projects from incorporating any proprietary tool into the development chain, and I discourage producers of proprietary development tools from approaching the open-source community on anything less than open-source terms. If they find the way to make open-source terms available — and, of course, I evangelize them pretty hard about it — obviously I encourage them and will help them as part of my business if they wish.

What do you know about TCO?

LW: Do you have any comments on the recent marketing activity on TCO "studies" showing Windows to be cheaper than open source?

Perens: I was really glad to see Grant's study (See the link to Grant Gross's piece for Tech Republic in Resources below). There is [an IT advisory agency] in New York called the Robert Frances Group, and they have a person there named Chad Robinson. He has a number of industry clients currently using [Linux]. First of all, he determined their salaries and it turned out that the Linux sysadmins made an average of $71,000 and the Windows sysadmins made an average of $68,000, which seems to me to be almost insignificant. Second, he found that the Linux sysadmins managed an average of two or three hundred systems whereas the Windows sysadmins managed 30 or 40. So this is a study that says Linux really is cheaper.

LW: A Windows sysadmin friend said the study was totally bogus because it's all about the skill of the sysadmin, not the product.

Perens: I think that is very interesting because obviously, when you go to pay for this, the fact that the competence rests in the person rather than the product is irrelevant to the money you are spending. The point here is that in general, Windows sysadmins do not script as much as we do. It is actually a product feature because we have made scripting incredibly easy; there are a hundred different ways to do it, there are 20 different languages. You'll notice that one of the Microsoft directions now is to provide a top-quality scripting and command-line environment.

So they realize that "Yes, we actually do have them beat in areas." What you're saying is that Linux sysadmins are in general more competent, which brings up emotional issues. It may be that the competent people simply do not choose to work on other platforms. I would not criticize Chad's study on that basis.

It's nice that we have our own study now on the TCO issues, but I want to bring up that Windows TCO issues are not entirely bogus. Think of the kind of person who just doesnt have a sysadmin. We're talking about the SOHO who said "I didnt have a sysadmin, so I got a Mac."

Although Windows is reasonably easy for the not-entirely-technically-competent person to install and administer, I think Macintosh leads it in that space. Put that person in front of a Linux system and it is still appreciably more difficult. We have been making progress as far as easing the UI installation. Obviously, disk-partitioning is one of the areas of development, but it's not the only one. You know, for example, that Debian is still using an installer that is patterned on one that I wrote — in 1996, I think. And I was copying something that Ian Murdock had written before. So it's not the same installer that I wrote in 1996, but it looks like it.

In the long term, installation cannot stay a differentiator because it is an easy problem to solve. This means that we need to choose one of these installers that is open-source and all pretty much pool our resources on it. Certainly on the Debian side we do. I think we could even do it in common with Red Hat if we wanted to.

Here come the preloads

LW: Who do you think will be the first major PC OEM to preload and sell Linux desktops in the United States?

Perens: I think it is almost a year away. I think they are waiting for things like a better control panel in GNOME that can actually administer the system. I suspect that the first might be Sun Microsystems for both SPARC and IA86. Sun is not retail level, you know. Sun sells to business. I think that Sun has actually been putting significant effort into its Linux. That could be totally out in left field; this is pure speculation. They have not briefed me on this.

LW: IBM was rumored recently to be preparing a Linux preload for the Indian market. Then, just a few days ago, HP announced a Presario model that they are going to offer preloaded with Linux on the Indian market.

Perens: HP has actually been doing Linux preloads in China for a long time. HP is quiet about it, and I think that one of the reasons they are quiet about it is that they feel that people put bootleg Windows on some of their systems after they buy them.

That is a problem with some of the Linux preloads: we can't say, just as we can't say that all the Windows systems that are sold run Windows. We know that some of these Linux servers come with Windows preloaded. The same thing happens with Linux, to some extent. Microsoft, I think, has been getting a little more aggressive about instituting product activation. I think it is a good step for Microsoft. If you want to have their model, that's a good way to do it.

I think it only helps us Linux folks, because it means that some of their systems will actually run Linux rather than bootleg Windows. My feeling is that the Linux preload actually works better for appliances than for general-purpose computing.

Think of what the typical office worker does with their system, and think of the open-source tools to provide those things: Web-browsing, an office suite and we have a very nice drag-and-drop file-manager in Nautilus. I'm sure there is something similar on the KDE side. I think we have 80 percent of what office workers need to do their job. I think that you could put that on the desks of 80 percent of the office workers in the world.

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 (1) View Comments

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.


Most Recent Comments
Austin W. Dunham V 07/05/03 04:33:52 PM EDT

One thing that isn't mentioned in this article is what would it cost, in terms of money, to open source, under either BSD or GPL, BitKeeper? (Or name your closed source, works closely with the open source community piece of software here.)

Rather than spending a lot of time and money trying to "clone" bitkeeper, why not go to its developer, ask him how many hundreds of thousands of dollars it would cost to truly open source his code - if he's even willing to - then try to create a fund that would do this?

The fund could be added to either by purchasing the software, or by simply dumping money at it. Other companies have followed this route, and it seems a perfect way for somebody who's spent a lot of time and effort on a product to reap some profit from it, while at the same time making sure that it won't be supplanted by a "clone" when the clone gets close enough.

@ThingsExpo Stories
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, an entertainment executive/TV producer turned serial entrepreneur, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to ma...
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.