Monday, 28 March 2016

Top 3 Open Source Project Management Tools for 2016

Based on improvements and new features this year the top 3 Open Source Project Management Tools for 2016:

3)  OpenProject -is designed to help your project teams throughout the entire project lifecycle and gives collaborative project planning, timeline reports, task management, time and cost reporting, Scrum, and more. OpenProject stands out with its intuitive user interface, extensive documentation, API, and rich feature set, which makes it a good choice for enterprise needs. OpenProject is currently working on version 5.1, which will bring inline work package creation, design and usability improvements, accessibility improvements, and more. Benefit from powerful project management features, Create and manage tasks, bugs, change requests, requirements, risks, and more. Set up and maintain project plans based on your needs. Organize meetings, documents, and track time and costs. 100% Accessible. 100% Open Source. OpenProject is licensed under GPLv3. Its current version 5.0.16 is available for download.

2)  LibrePlan - is a web-based application, making project management available to the whole project team, and if necessary across organizations. This is another full featured tool supporting resource allocation, Gantt charts, financials. Manage Resources, Track Data, Collaborate and more. LibrePlan provides a modern design and balanced user interface, as well as, good and complete documentation, built in reporting, and professional support. A mobile application is available for Android, Windows phone, and other platforms. LibrePlan is licensed under GPLv3. It requires components a Java runtime environment, PostgreSQL, and Tomcat. Its available for download, and the source code can be found on GitHub.

1)  ProjectLibre - an award winning tool championed as the open source replacement of Microsoft Project which has been downloaded over two million times in 200 countries. It holds features such as support for task management, resource allocation, tracking, Gantt charts, and more. Als0 ProjectLibre Enterprise Cloud will release soon and have a similar disruptive impact that Google Docs had with Microsoft Word! ProjectLibre is licensed under a Common Public Attribution License Version 1.0. It's based on Java, and available for download.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Ubuntu, Dell and Project Sputnik

Did you known Dell started shipping PCs with Ubuntu Linux preinstalled in 2007? Additionally Dell recently unveiled an updated edition of its Ubuntu-powered laptop from Project Sputnik.

Launched in 2012, Project Sputnik is a Dell initiative to build Linux-based laptops tailored for cloud developers. They feature high-end hardware based on Dell's XPS line, combined with Canonical's Ubuntu Linux OS and some custom add-ons designed to help programmers test their code for cloud environments.

Since it is aimed at a relatively small group of customers, Project Sputnik is a far cry from the Ubuntu machines that Dell briefly but remarkably marketed to the masses circa 2007. The company is no longer doing that sort of thing.

The big change is the availability of updated hardware. The newest Ubuntu laptops from Dell feature sixth-generation Intel i7 processors, along with up to 16 gigabytes of memory. (Other Ubuntu laptops from the Precision line support as much as 32 gigabytes.) They also include updated versions of Dell's home-grown open source Project Sputnik software for developers.

The new Project Sputnik laptop will run Ubuntu 14.04. Dell says the machines will also support the newest long-term support (LTS) release of Ubuntu, 16.04, when it debuts later this spring.

The laptops do have significance, in particular, they're important because they are the only developer-centric, open source laptops that have the backing of a major hardware vendor. There are some niche companies that sell laptops with Ubuntu preinstalled, like System76 and Zareason, but they are small outfits and not obvious partners for businesses that want to take advantage of Ubuntu. Against this backdrop, Dell continues to play a unique channel role through its sustained commitment to Linux laptops.


Dell and Project Sputnik:


Sunday, 13 March 2016

White House Draft Policy - Leveraging American Ingenuity through Reusable and Open Source Software

When people and programmers are given access to aspects of fundamental code, positive things can happen. Bugs are found and fixed and security holes are patched...Software is made better or even adapted to different needs.

The ubiquitous open source model has become so dominant in the private sector that US government is seeing its advantages and its true potential to the extent that the Federal Chief Information Officer of the United States, Tony Scott released a blog post entitled "Leveraging American Ingenuity through Reusable and Open Source Software" which outlines the Obama administration’s plans to bring open source to the government.

In the White House’s draft vision, government agencies will be able to share code and address inefficiencies over time, saving one agency from reinventing the wheel where another has already done the work.

It’s not yet policy but at this point a launching pad for greater things.

As Scott wrote in the blog post:
“We’re releasing for public comment a draft Federal Source Code policy to support improved access to custom software code.” “This policy will require new software developed specifically for or by the Federal Government to be made available for sharing and re-use across Federal agencies. It also includes a pilot program that will result in a portion of that new federally-funded custom code being released to the public,”

But its not just about sharing code but would also instruct agencies to use open source pieces to build the software itself whenever possible.

If government can successfully move this initiative along and it survives the transition of the next elected administration, it could eventually revolutionize the way the public and US government shares code project for the public good echoing better governance and systems.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Open source has come far, no doubt.   Let’s take a look at the three distinct generations:

The Richard Stallman generation:
Founding the free software movement in the 80s, this generation built GNU and the FSF, which made it possible a decade later for Linux-based operating systems to function. As FOSS purists, they also tended to view free software as a “moral crusade”, and they remained relatively marginal within the mainstream technology world.

Linux Kernel generation:
They were the first to have access to free/open source operating systems that actually worked by combining Linus Torvalds's free kernel with GNU utilities. This second generation was less ideological than the first generation. Torvalds et all favoured open source primarily for functional, not moral, reasons. They saw it as a more efficient way to code, and a less expensive means of working with computers. But they were still independent, and wary of becoming corporate minions.  This is where the lines begin to blur or split between what is FOSS and  what is Open-Source.  This generation also brought GNU/Linux  into the mainstream. They wrote the code that made open source operating systems not just functional, but top-tier and competitive with professional closed-source platforms. They also faced bitter battles with Microsoft in the late 90s and early 2000s, which younger coders perhaps do not fully appreciate. People who were not active open source programmers or users before the mid-2000s probably take it for granted that they do not have to worry about potentially being sued for using GNU/Linux.

Today's Generation (Gen 3):
This is the generation that came of age once GNU/Linux was already the defacto operating system for millions of servers, at a time when no one questioned the value of open source code. For this generation, open source is no longer an argument. It's a default. For that reason, the ideological and functionalist debates have largely disappeared from the scene. Most open source programmers today do not give away code because they think it is the morally right thing to do, or because they deem it more efficient. They do it because there is no real alternative in an increasing number of niches.   From the cloud (where OpenStack reigns supreme) to big data (where Hadoop, Spark and a host of NoSQL databases are now conquering the proprietary holdouts) to SDN and NFV, open source dominates. If you want to work in these ecosystems, you have to use open source.  Most open source supporters no doubt see this as a good thing. The trend toward licensing everything under Apache licenses, rather than the GPL, will not please people who think the Apache terms are too liberal. Similarly, the increasing influence of corporations in the open source space -- heralded most recently by controversy over the Linux Foundation's change to its by-laws -- has caused some tensions within the community.  Last but not least, the open source community's cozying-up to Microsoft in recent years, while seemingly normal to members of the third open source generation, may not sit completely comfortably with people who lived through the struggles of yore.  

adapted from write up by: Christopher Tozzi | The VAR Guy

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Linux Foundation announces The Zephyr Project: Real-time OS for Internet of Things devices

    Zephyr Project - Overview video

Last week Linux Foundation announced a project to build a real-time OS for Internet of Things devices, called the Zephyr Project.

This announcement can actually be the first signs of something huge where a scalable and customizable open source OS, can be used across multiple architectures.

The Zephyr Project could help solve many of the current issues that hindered the IoT (Internet of Things) from becoming extremely mainstream.

The Zephyr Project could mean that our IoT devices, which is so far confined to their own proprietary systems, will at last be able to talk to one another. No more digital borders between your wearable device and your thermostat as they able to communicate using the similar protocols.

Linux has already proven to be excellent at running with constrained resources, while similarly being capable of powering the real-time data acquisition systems of manufacturing plants and other time-sensitive instruments and machines. Zephyr is expected to take the best of these 2 worlds, speed and low-consumption.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Changing the Traditional Work Model with Open Source

Open Source Communities
Much research has demonstrated that current traditional work models (eg the typical 9-to-5 work week), are not only unhealthy to workers' physical and mental health, but does not reap the best level of productivity.

On the other hand, working in open source technologies provides for a completely different employment model. Instead of being pigeonholed into a single, assigned task, open source contributors are given more autonomy for their responsibilities, allowing them to use their time and skills with more resilience.

Further, many studies imply that the traditional and societal reproach that is associated with not having a job in the traditional sense have significant negative impacts on individuals' mental health.

Communities and projects that adopt Open Source philosophy are examples of non-traditional work structures that are very productive while existing outside typical understanding of "work."

An example are the authors of the software OpenSSL ( a vital software library that serves a large majority of websites across the web). Outside of traditional business models, the software authors range from one time collaborators to continuous contributors who have collectively made the most important networking encryption library to date. This is the result of effort of diverse communities of volunteers working on "their own time," rather than on the through a rigid proprietary software development firm.

In the book "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", the difference between proprietary software and open source development is compared and the primary difference noted is the hierarchical structure of the proprietary software development and the flat organizational structure of the open source development model.
Open source work tends to lean more towards the non-hierarchical (or heterarchical) management system in which leadership is decentralized. This leads to contributors experiencing more freedom in their roles in certain projects. Another benefit of flat structures is a certain flexibility to adapt to change, which is vital in the realm of open source software development.

Open source trumps traditional models in the area of Accessibility. Many of today's neoliberal economic practices prioritize productivity—which often leads to disability discrimination. A core principle of open source is to allow anyone who wishes to contribute to the ecosystem to be able to do so. 

Friday, 5 February 2016

Open Source Initiative celebrates anniversary this month

OSI is 18 years old

As a result of companies releasing their code to the public, the importance of having a solid community—one that understands how developers, contributors, businesses and governments interact and communicate—increases. One group has recognized this importance since the beginning, and yesterday it celebrated its 18th anniversary, along with a history of support for open source.

The Open Source Initiative (OSI), a California-based non-profit, has been raising awareness and promoting adoption of open-source software since it was founded in 1998 as an educational, advocacy and stewardship organization.

“A big focus in the early days [for OSI] was around licensing,” said Allison Randal, president of OSI and open-source strategist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “There was a broad variety of licenses going around—some of them claimed to be open source—and there was disagreement around what the core of open source should be.”

In 1998, the OSI put together the Open Source Definition, an objective standard for what kinds of licenses can or cannot be called “open source.” This definition is still used by OSI today. This standard demonstrates that open source isn’t just access to source code. The distribution terms of open source software must comply with several criteria, and Randal said that this helps eliminate everyone being able to “slap” the open-source label onto their license when it might be, in fact, anything but open source.

One of the main activities of the OSI board is to review licenses that individuals submit to get the “open-source” blessing. The board reviews it according to the Open Source Definition, approving any license that meets it. OSI has a list of open-source licenses by category, including those that have been superseded or retired.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Open Source and Hacking Drone Images

GHCQ and NSA intercepted scrambled video feeds from remotely piloted aircraft and tracked the movement of drones of the Israelis, Syrians, and other nations in that region.  They were even sometimes able to intercepted video from Israeli fighter aircraft during combat missions.

In this classified operation codenamed "Anarchist",  NSA and GHCQ didn't use some overblown super computing software from some large corporate entity....they used free and open source software such as Image Magick (an open source image manipulation tool) and open source software to defeat commercial satellite signal encryption (antisky) is the name of one of those tools.

GCHQ would exploit satellite and radio signals in the regions which include Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, and much of North Africa. The encrypted signals were then processed with Image Magick and antisky. One image also uncovered appears to show an Israeli Heron drone carrying a weapon. The image is possibly the first direct public evidence that Israel is using armed drones.

Documents and images on this story can be found at

Friday, 22 January 2016

Contributing to Open Source in a Non-Code way

Contributing to open source is a fruitful undertaking but when software engineers ask other software engineers to contribute to open source they usually mean code contributions. There are numerous ways to contribute to open source without writing any code:

  1. Evangelize:  sharing your expertise in a technical talk. This is a great way to develop your own reputation and to attract more users to the project. For example your experiences with Open JDK since Google's fallout with Oracle over Java.

  2. Report bugs:  More users means more bug reports. More bug reports means more bug fixes. More bug fixes means better software. You’ve now indirectly, but meaningfully, contributed to the improvement of the software without writing a single line of code. 

  3. Write: Informative blog posts about the particular project are useful and once again attract more users to the project. If blog posts are too extensive an effort for you, consider answering questions about the technology on mailing lists, StackOverflow, or Twitter. This is a great way to not only develop your own knowledge about the technology, it contributes back to the collective pool of information available about it.

  4. Host a meetup: Consider hosting workshops or starting a Meetup in your town around the specific open-source tool. This gives you a chance to build non-digital communities around the project. These communities can be valuable for individuals who can’t afford to be online all the time (yes, they exist and yes, they matter) and for individuals who prefer to put a face to an avatar when interacting with other users about software.

  5. Improve security:  If you have experience with cybersecurity or security testing, consider donating your skills for the improvement of the project. Finding and providing fixes for security holes is a direct way to improve the software and the user experience around the project.  

Sunday, 17 January 2016

How code transparency can save lives

Karen Sandler's  is a executive director at Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) which helps to promote and defend free and open-source software.

She has a heart condition where her abnormally large heart could suffer a cardiac arrest at any time and as a result her heart has been fitted with a combined pacemaker-defibrillator.

This device has coded instructions for when to deliver a shock to correct potentially-fatal irregularities in her heart beat.

However for Karen these instructions turned out to be wrong where she was twice needlessly electrocuted by the unit.

For Karen, the mistaken suppositions coded into the device are a reminder of how important it is for software to be transparent.

"I've got a pacemaker-defibrillator implanted in my body that my life relies on," said Sandler. "I can't even review the source code, let alone hire people or write myself some code that is specific to my own situation that would avoid me being shocked.

"Expecting the device manufacturers to anticipate all the problems that I would have is naive. It's not in their financial interests but also it [my condition] is very rare.

"It really brings home the fact that if you don't have control over the software that you rely on it can be really problematic."

It's easy to see Sandler as an outlier and to assume that most people's lives aren't so dependent upon code. But as we move into an age where cars are becoming increasingly autonomous she argues that all of us will soon, to some degree, be reliant on software to keep us alive.

"The average luxury car has 100 million lines of code in it. The Software Engineering Institute estimates that one bug is introduced for every 100 lines of code. It's really scary to think about."

Read entire article here:

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Open Source in your ride

Recently the Linux Foundation stated that Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru are taking part in the Automotive Grade Linux project

One aim of the project, according to this Linux Foundation is to bringing together the best open-source components into a single software stack that every automaker can utilize. 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

US federal software acquisition reform in 2015

Within the next month, the U.S Budget and Management Office will gain ideas from the public on how to improve federal software procurement.  Open-source supporters see this as a method to acquire competitive advantage in federal marketplace.

OMB will be drafting a memo that outlines the best practices as a part of a broad effort on behalf of the White House “to improve efficiency, reduce red tape, and provide greater benefit for taxpayer dollars,” in federal acquisition.

For the open-source community, there is no better way of achieving these goals than to challenge the status quo of using commercial software in favor of pre-written, easily modifiable and widely available code to build applications.

Full article can be found here:

Friday, 1 January 2016

Ending the Sierra Leone Ebola epidemic with Open Source software developers

So how did they do it?   by solving the payroll issue of distributing wages to healthcare workers.

Emerson Tan from NetHope, a consortium of NGOs working in IT,  mentions the story at the Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg, Germany.

Healthcare workers on the frontline fighting the epidemic didn't get paid for months.    So when healthcare workers went on strike, Ebola patients in hospitals broke out in search of food, exacerbating the spread of the disease.

Also the country’s central bank at one point were going to run out of currency notes. On top of those problems, there were only 8 ATMs in the country.

To solve the issue, Massally and his team drew on existing open source software solutions for payroll management, biometrics, logistics and accounting.  They came up with a mobile money system, that substituted cellphone-minutes for cash, and created an automated payment system.    The core system was built in two weeks.  People’s faith in the healthcare system was restored.

Microsoft's Linux-based OS

Microsoft Loves Linux!

Microsoft has rolled its own "Linux distribution"   Yip!
But it's no surprise because Microsoft was among the largest contributors to the Linux kernel and today about 1/5 of the operating systems running on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform are Linux-based.
It's all happening due to customers, developers and enterprises making it know their preference to use of open source software.  
So Microsoft is now willing to make a Linux-based OS for datacenter networking. 
The .NET development framework, hitched Windows to the popular open-source container automation platform Docker, and even hinted it may one day lift the lid on the code that powers Windows.
So great thing for 2016!