Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Roger Strukhoff

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
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 ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
"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.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. 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, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
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...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
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 ...
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 ...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits,...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile exhibited at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on qua...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cedexis will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cedexis is the leader in data-driven enterprise global traffic management. Whether optimizing traffic through datacenters, clouds, CDNs, or any combination, Cedexis solutions drive quality and cost-effectiveness. For more information, please visit https://www.cedexis.com.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Google Cloud has been named “Keynote Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Companies come to Google Cloud to transform their businesses. Google Cloud’s comprehensive portfolio – from infrastructure to apps to devices – helps enterprises innovate faster, scale smarter, stay secure, and do more with data than ever before.