|By Nigel McFarlane||
|January 19, 2004 12:00 AM EST||
Software provides functionality for the benefit of real people. Most software resides in applications, not in drivers or kernels. Today the open source community needs enabling kernels like Linux far less than it needs enabling application frameworks like Mozilla. Kernels have achieved most of what they can achieve, and the game is moving on. Can this be believed?
Have you noticed that small red or aqua lizard icon on your Linux desktop? It's Mozilla, best known in the guise of a Web browser. You're going to notice that icon a lot more in the future, whether you're a programmer, an IT guru, or an end user.
When we think of open source, Linux usually comes to mind before Mozilla. That is despite the groundbreaking open source release of the Netscape source code in the middle of the '90s browser wars. After all, Linux has garage credibility (or should that be university lab credibility?), whereas Mozilla is more of a corporate escapee. But Mozilla's history is as long as GNU/Linux; Mozilla has been the internal project name for the former Netscape browser since Netscape 1.0.
So much is written about Linux, meaning the Linux kernel and associated tools, and yet the kernel source and documentation is overall not very large. The very largest open source projects are in fact all corporate gifts rather than grassroots developments. OpenOffice is the premier example at 120 MB. You might not expect Mozilla to be a massive project, but surprise, it weighs in at number 2 or 3. A hundred AOL/Netscape employees didn't work away four years over nothing. Its source is massively bigger than Apache, bigger than Perl and Tcl/Tk combined, twice as big as the biggest kernel source bundle you can find.
Except for OpenOffice developers, most of us mentally discard OpenOffice as a technology building block. This is because of its obvious end-user intent. After all, you can't build a nuclear reactor out of the GIMP. The GIMP is best left doing what it does best - manipulating images. And the same applies to OpenOffice.
It might seem that Mozilla is tarred with the same brush. After all, isn't it a Web browser first and foremost? Well, in short, the answer is no.
Larry Wall this year re-popularized the Universal Architectural Diagram in his State of the Onion 2003 speech (www.perl.com/pub/a/2003/07/16/soto2003.html). That progress report on Perl used a diagram that goes back at least as far as early IBM mainframes. In the diagram, a generic layer of technology is used as the basis for several specialist applications. Because the generic layer is common to each application, those applications are seen as having identical status. At least they are seen as members of some common group. The Universal Architectural Diagram is a very common design pattern. Java, .NET, Perl, X-Window, Pick, XML, and many others have used it to provide a generic, enabling technology layer, and a set of interesting offshoots. Even the relationship between BIOS and Windows/Linux/QNX uses this pattern, as shown by the success of VMWare and other BIOS emulators.
Mozilla is another example of the Universal Architecture. An e-mail client is not the same thing as a Web browser, and yet Mozilla supports both. The Mozilla Platform, which is a set of files shorn of any browser, is a generic basis for user-oriented, GUI-oriented, possibly networked applications. Out of that platform the Mozilla browser has been built, a highly successful browser at that. But that platform has also been used to build e-mail clients, composers, debuggers, IDEs, desktops, settops, palmtops, calendars, PIMs, chat clients, dictionaries, and educational software. That's a broad range.
Jim Gettys, of Hewlett-Packard and www.freedesktop.org fame, has recently been analyzing the technical services offered by open source Unixes that support desktop applications (http://freedesk top.org/~jg/roadmap.html). If you peruse this list, you'll see that most of the desktop technology is expressed in terms of libraries and programmer frameworks - pretty low-level stuff to some. What's missing is a very high-level, easy-to-use system for desktop GUI application development. In fact, Unix has been missing a Visual Basic-like system for a long time, with only Tcl/Tk offering any kind of easy solution. It's no wonder that desktop applications have been slow to arrive on Linux.
Mozilla is therefore well poised to be the application development framework of choice for Linux. It even comes with a bonus: Linux applications will work without change on Windows, Mac OS X, and other platforms, provided some basic portability rules are followed. They also work from local disk, across the Web, and from across the Internet.
You might ask: Why bother? Don't all good Linux hackers go armpit deep in code, as close as possible to the bare metal? And isn't Java the obvious solution for applications? Well, no, and no. Most of the comfy spots close to the open source bare metal are taken, and that kind of thing appeals only to a narrow class of programmers anyway. By comparison, there are 45,000 IT people in New Zealand (pop. 4 million) alone - that's great deal of variety. Second, Java is a very object-oriented language, and frankly, that doesn't suit a lot of people. JSP doesn't exist because Java is trivially easy to work with. Sure, Java is popular, but scripting languages are just as popular. Mozilla's easy development style suits a very big chunk of the middle ground, where all the good spots aren't yet taken, and where the code isn't too convoluted.
If you think this is unguarded opinion, then listen to Gartner (www.gartner.com). Their "Hype Cycle for Open-Source Technologies, 2003" barely remarks on core operating system features at all. That report just says applications, applications, applications, over and over. That's good news for LAMP developers (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl) if you don't mind using a browser as a GUI. Now you can go forth and Mozilla as well.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 8, 2016 12:45 PM EST Reads: 351
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 8, 2016 12:30 PM EST Reads: 130
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 8, 2016 10:45 AM EST Reads: 377
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 8, 2016 09:30 AM EST Reads: 148
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 7, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 565
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 7, 2016 01:45 PM EST Reads: 368
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 7, 2016 01:30 PM EST
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 7, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 349
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 7, 2016 10:15 AM EST Reads: 122
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Feb. 6, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 729
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 790
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 2, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 416
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Feb. 2, 2016 04:30 AM EST Reads: 856
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
Feb. 1, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 946
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
Jan. 31, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 731
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
Jan. 31, 2016 07:15 PM EST Reads: 1,153
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,225
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 816
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
Jan. 30, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 793
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
Jan. 30, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 1,274