Even Microsoft recognized its latest move as "a break from the ordinary," which certainly describes the largely closed-source company coughing up 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux community. But settle down, Windows isn't going open-source.
Instead, the code includes three Linux device drivers, which have been submitted to the Linux kernel community for inclusion in the LInux tree. Microsoft says the driver code will enhance the performance of Linux when virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V.
"We are seeing Microsoft communities and open-source communities grow together, which is ultimately of benefit to our customers," said Sam Ramji, senior director of Platform Strategy of Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center (OSTC). "The Linux community, for example, has built a platform used by many customers. So our strategy is to enhance interoperability between the Windows platform and many open-source technologies, which includes Linux, to provide the choices our customers are asking for."
So we guess it's true - we can all just get along after all.
Distributed computing is one of the wonderful ways that you can use your PC to contribute to more thoughtful, worldly causes than keeping your room warm during a cloudy summer day. These projects, made up of members from all corners of the world (even Maximum PC's own forums), make use of your computer during its idle periods. Whether they're come as a screensaver that launches after a set period of time, or a background application that launches after a certain period of CPU inactivity, these free applications divvy out the tasks of a large, complicated project to a number of people at once.
Why should you care? Because distributed computing is a nice way to use a minimal amount of your system's resources--resources that you wouldn't be using anyway--to contribute to something greater than yourself. It's entirely altruistic in its purpose. Very, very few distributed computing projects have some kind of monetary award attached to the work, and you'd have to score a major knock-out in your individual contribution to the project to see the result. That is, your computer would have to be the one that finds the next huge prime number, or major breakthrough in protein analysis, or something to that effect. If you're in it for a reward, you might as well develop a program that estimates lottery odds.
You'll find that entities like Maximum PC, amongst others, have teams of people contributing to these distributed computing projects. It's a great way to make friends and fellow geeks--in fact, I'd probably be strung up by this site's forum folk if I didn't include a shout-out to their work on the Folding@Home project. Click the jump to find out how you can get involved in this and other awesome distributed computing efforts. +10 Light Side points for you.
Open-source licensing can be a tricky beast. But it's not just aspiring software developers that need be concerned about the nuances of OSS licensing (or freeware licensing, for that matter). If you offer up apps on a CD or a Web site for others to grab, you're just as impacted by the parameters of licensing as anyone else. If you're just a downloader who's thinking, "why me? I just install cool programs," it behooves you to understand the differences between legitimate and illegal distribution models for the programs you fancy. While you, yourself, cannot be held accountable for another's licensing violation when you go to download software, you shouldn't encourage their efforts either. Playing by the rules is the only way to keep the spirit of open source alive.
That doesn't make open-source licensing any less confusing, however. Click the jump to find out why!
Brrzap! Not all hardware failures start that way, but there's a good chance they'll end up sounding like that as a result of you chucking an unruly piece of hardware through the nearest exit of your dwelling. Before you hulk up next time, know that there are ways to get a little bit more information about the status of your components. Applications that assess the health of your system's various parts serve a twofold purpose. You can deduce that equipment on your system might be going kaput or is otherwise screwed up in some fashion. Armed with that knowledge, you can then attempt to make an effective repair. If there is no way to repair your parts, you'll at least get an advanced notice that disaster is about to strike and that a trip to the electronics store might be in your soon-to-immediate future.
In this week's freeware roundup, I'm going to give you a list of applications that will help you assess your system's CPU, hard drives, optical drives, network connections, and memory. Don't delay in installing these applications--every second wasted puts you but one step closer to a catastrophic meltdown--or, at the very least, an unexpected failure in a critical piece of your PC. And nobody wants to be left hanging on the one day you really, really, really need to access the Internet, for example.
Click the jump, put on your medic's coat, and let's run some diagnostics!
If you've been following my articles as of late, you'll notice that I've been exploring (obsessing over) the world of Windows-based package managers. It's an interesting concept that the Linux world gets to enjoy to great success--the ability to download and install applications via a single program, much like how you would grab a song on iTunes or an application off its App Store.
In last week's Murphy's Law, I postulated that this exact combination of one-button glam plus a functional, community-driven application repository would be a surefire way to increase open-source awareness amongst average computer users. That, and it would offer power users a better way to grab, install, and manage large bundles of applications on any number of individual or networked PCs.
A number of you seemed to agree. That's great. But as we all saw in this week's freeware roundup, the state of the package manager market for the Windows operating system is tragic at best. It's difficult, if not impossible, to find a working package manager that fulfills the three main criteria for usefulness: updated applications, minimal downloading errors, and a halfway-decent GUI.
What's the holdup in Windows Package Manager development? Are they really that tricky to create and maintain? And why should users ultimately care about these kinds of applications? To get the answers to these tough questions, I turned to BennyP--creator and sole maintainer of the WinPackMan package manager application. He's currently caught up in bringing this once-popular piece of software back from the dead, making him an ideal candidate for learning more about what's going on in the trenches of third-party Windows package manager development.
If you're ready to discover the dark secrets that separate Linux and Windows package managers... click the jump!
Rules, rules, rules. It's one of the few things the open-source world has in common with its closed alternative. There are rules for downloading open-source projects. Rules for using open-source projects. Rules for distributing open-source projects. Rules for modify... ok. You get the idea.
It's one thing for open-source developers to define the legal parameters associated with the tinkering of their pet projects. That's the pill you swallow when you agree to download these bits of community-driven software. But that's also where the control factor ends. You can run open-source software on any platform you like. Depending on the parameters of the license, you can even populate your favorite open-source software applications to a new platform of your choosing--like a little bee in a digital garden, if you will.
Flying over the friendly skies of the closed-source world tells a different tale. Microsoft makes the rules here. Or, at least, as many rules as it can get away with making in relation to which of its operating systems you can use and how you can go about using them. Want to run a ton of programs at once? That's a license issue. Want access to additional functionality? Buy a better license. The list goes on, but it doesn't just end at the software level. A recent report has revealed Microsoft's intentions for Windows 7 in the netbook space, but this isn't the first time Microsoft has demanded that hardware manufacturers bow to a certain specification in order to bundle its operating systems along for the ride.
Check out Microsoft's full restrictions after the jump!
If Google's prediction turns out to be correct, this could very well end up the year of the Android smartphone. According to the search giant, at least 18 mobile phones rocking the open-source OS will be released on the global market before 2010, and maybe as many as 20.
Andy Rubin, senior director for Mobile Platforms for Google, said the devices will be made by eight or nine different manufacturers, but stopped short of saying which manufacturers or which wireless carriers. As it currently stands, there are two Android smartphones on the market - TMobile's G1 in the U.S., and HTC's Magic available in Europe.
The summer looks to sizzle with heated competition in the mobile market. In addition to more Android phones, other contenders include the new Palm OS for the Pre, a new version of Microsoft's mobile version of Windows, and of course Apple's iPhone.
T-Mobile's G1 smartphone may not have been the iPhone killer some were expecting, but there's no doubt Google's open-source Android platform is here to stay. So what does the future hold for Android?
According to Strategy Analytics, global Android smartphone shipments will grow a staggering 900 percent in 2009, driven by widespread vendor and developer support. Coming in a distant second (in terms of growth), Apple iPhone OS will see a 79 percent growth rate in the same time period.
"The Android mobile operating system from Google gained early traction in the US in the second half of 2008 and it is gradually spreading its presence into Europe and Asia during 2009," said Tom Kang, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics. "Android is expanding from a low base and it is consequently outgrowing the iPhone OS from Apple, which we estimate will grow at a relatively lower 79% annually in 2009."
Thanks to its low-cost licensing model, mostly open-source structure, and support for cloud services, Android has the potential to be a major force in the smartphone market by the end of the year.
In the past, Microsoft has been against the use of open-source software, but it appears that trend is going to change with the introduction of their new search platform, Kumo.
Reportedly, the team in charge of Kumo (previously Powerset) “tries to use open-source software, if it is available.” And, on top of that, they’ve made it a point to avoid proprietary software. It would seem that Microsoft’s anti-open-source ways have been left in the dust (for the time being). While Microsoft is notably nervous about licensing their software using an open-source license, they are enthusiastic about consuming open-source software and integrating it into their proprietary products.
So, for the time being Microsoft has lowered their defenses when it comes to the possibility of open-source software. Though, given their track record, it isn’t likely that this trend will continue.
Acer president and CEO Gianfranco Lanci acknowledged yesterday all the attention Google's open-source Android platform has been receiving and assured investors that his company has taken notice, too.
"We are testing Android on a lot of different solutions," Lanci said during Acer's first-quarter investors conference in Taipei. "We are working on an Android solution for the smartphone, but I think it's too early to say if we're going to see Android on a netbook in the near future."
Lanci had previously been critical of Android for use in netbooks, noting Android is not yet ready to fit the needs that come with them, such as being able to "view a full web for the total internet experience." At the time, Acer did say it was testing Android for netbooks, noting that other companies have been doing the same thing.
Netbooks aside, Acer's latest statements regarding smartphones follow in line with what HTC, Far EasTone, and Samsung have also indicated. In other words, be prepared for a deluge of Android-based cellphones in the not too distant future.