Stories by Neil McAllister

The database open source won't build

A week or so ago I was chatting with a friend about a meeting I had scheduled for the following morning. I said I'd be speaking with a guy whose company markets a commercial database product built around open source software.

Developing with open source, risk-free

Picture this scenario: Suppose Company A acquires Company B, a hardware vendor that incorporates the Linux kernel into its products. After the acquisition is complete, however, an unfortunate thing happens. Linux developers bring suit against Company B, alleging violations of the Gnu GPL (General Public License). As part of the settlement, Company A agrees to open source all of Company B's code, even the previously proprietary parts.

Oracle wins big with its Innobase acquisition

To the faithful, Oracle's acquisition of key MySQL partner Innobase is proof of what they've believed all along: MySQL's success is a threat to Oracle's database business and it's only a matter of time before the two companies collide.

Google does IM right

If there's one application that has cried out for open standards and open code from the very beginning, it's IM (instant messaging). Proprietary IM clients from the likes of AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo have always been invasive, garish affairs, full of ads and each tied to its own network.

Open source could use a face-lift

Recently a reader took offence at a comment I made when I suggested that a well-defended trademark could help win Linux "a seat at the grown-ups' table".

Should Linux vendors think differently?

No matter how many strides Linux makes toward desktop acceptance, we're still a long way from the day when we'll see the free OS become a true drop-in replacement for the commercial systems we use now.

Can open source companies innovate?

When it comes to open source vendors and innovation, Bill Gates doesn't waver. At Microsoft's annual Professional Developers Conference (PDC) recently, Gates said: "I don't think that someone who completely gives up licence fees is ever going to have a substantial R&D budget and do the hard things, the things too hard to do in a university environment."

You can't kill TCO

If you think the manufacturer's sticker gave you a reliable estimate of the city mileage for that new car of yours, you should try negotiating traffic on the hills of San Francisco. You'll discover pretty quickly that in my town, the old adage "Your mileage may vary" has never been truer.

Debian consortium takes on Novell, Red Hat

"A lot of people have been unhappy with the service they've been getting from a certain very large Linux vendor." That was Bruce Perens, speaking at this year's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, which took place in San Francisco earlier this month. You can fill in Bruce's blank yourself. But if you think he came to the conference to stump for more choice in Linux distributions, you're mistaken. In a sense, he was calling for fewer choices.

Open source business intelligence

Customers and ISVs face steep fees when licensing existing BI software, so it's only logical that work on BI within the open source community is heating up. First out of the gate was the Eclipse Foundation, which has made BI one of its seven top-level projects. The Foundation released Version 1.0 of its BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) in June, under its own, Open Source Initiative (OSI)-approved Eclipse License.

The BBC seeks escape from patent minefield

It seems like everywhere you look, open standards and open formats are becoming the preferred means of delivering digital documents. XML, for one, is now the darling of the enterprise: Even Microsoft has committed to an open XML format for its upcoming Office 12 suite. But whereas static, printable document formats become more and more universally open, the picture isn't so rosy for multimedia.

Solaris comes down from its high horse

Well, they did it. For months we've been hearing about Sun Microsystems' plans to open the source code of its flagship Solaris operating system. The company finally delivered the goods but will it be any better off?

Nokia's open source advantage

Nokia's challenge? Sell more mobile phones. To do that, it needed to beat the competition on features. And to do that, it turned to open source.

Google's Summer of Code heats up

What would a business gain by contributing to open source? If you thought it was hard to gauge the return on investment of hardware or software purchases, try to get your head around the open source question. Whether you're contributing capital or human resources, it can be difficult to justify an endeavor that, truth be told, could ultimately benefit your competitors as much as your own company.