Saturday, April 30, 2011

The naming of parts: Time for “Linux Inside”?

by Glyn Moody

Names matter in free software. Just think of the number of electrons that have been spilt arguing over whether it's “Linux” or “GNU/Linux”.

The naming of parts came up when I interviewed Linus back in 1996. I had asked him about his relations with Richard Stallman, and this is what Linus said:

I've had some, not very much. At first he wasn't too interested, because Linux was so PC-centric – just two years ago, it didn't run on anything else. And I suspect Richard really dislikes PCs. So he wasn't really interested in that sense. Lately, when it's become obvious how portable it is and how well it works on other architectures too, I think Richard in that sense looks at Linux in a different light.

One problem we've had, well, problem, kind of clash of personalities, is that Linux has gotten so much press and GNU has gotten so little. So for Richard, he's not pragmatic, he really has this idealistic world-view, he'd really like the system to be called GNU/Linux or something like this. Personally I don't think GNU Linux flies as a name, it should be catchy.

But is “Linux” catchy? The fact that few people have heard of it outside the rather specialised world of free software suggests not. Indeed, far more people have probably come across “Ubuntu”, which has taken on the role of the public face of GNU/Linux to a certain extent. That's good, in the sense that it has done valuable work promoting free software to the general public; but it's also unfortunate in that it has pushed the “Linux” name even further into the background.

Some might ask why that is even a problem. After all, does it really matter what the kernel is called? I'd argue yes, for the slightly counter-intuitive reason that Linux is becoming so successful, particularly in two areas: mobile phones and embedded systems.

The rise and rise of Android has made that particularly name a household word – well, in more affluent countries at least, although once cheap Android-based phones start appearing it will become a global brand. Embedded systems, by contrast, often run Linux without anyone being aware of the fact: one of its strengths is that it doesn't crash, so there are no tell-tale Blue Screens of Death (BSOD) to announce its presence to the world. Instead, it just carries on working reliably and invisibly.

The problem, then, is the fact that Linux can be powering more and more of the digital devices that fill our lives and also be behind the international success that is Android, and yet few outside the computer world are aware of the connection.

Imagine, now, a situation where all these growing successes were perceived as part of a single, larger movement: the rise of Linux, and with it the spread of free software. Once people start to realise that many of their most beloved and faithful gadgets have at their heart the same software, they might begin to look a little differently on this “Linux” thing; they might, for example, begin to seek it out in other devices...maybe even on the desktop.

That is, if we could make people aware of just how widely used Linux is in smartphones and consumer electronics, say, it might even kickstart the use of free software in other domains.

So, the question becomes: how might we do this?

The idea of some kind of “Linux Inside” campaign has been raised before, but the situation is rather different now, largely thanks to Android smartphones. These are probably the first mass-market devices running Linux that people in the street are passionate about; this offers a unique opportunity to tap into that goodwill and transfer some of it to Linux.

To do that, we need a neutral organisation to oversee the project – the Linux Foundation is the obvious candidate – not least because Linus is an employee. As well as being widely respected among the open source community, it already has many of the leading companies that use Linux in their products as members. More recently, it has become more active in the embedded sector, which could be invaluable in gaining support for the idea here too.

Those same companies could help fund advertising campaigns to raise people's awareness of “Linux Inside” or whatever brand were chosen. As well as the efficiency of banding together to promote something for their mutual benefit, there's also the fact that they have – and ought to feel – a moral obligation to support something that they use for free. A few judicious remarks by Linus along those lines ought to work wonders, since it would be a PR disaster for major companies to be seen snubbing his polite request for help in this way.

Of course, for the thousands of smaller manufacturers that use Linux in their consumer devices, that may not be such a convincing argument for them to contribute money to the campaign. But, at the very least, it's in their own interests to stick some “Linux Inside” logo on their boxes – after all, it lets them tap into the generic marketing that would be going on around it, as well as allowing them to claim that the software in their otherwise somewhat anonymous products was “official” (provided, of course, that they made available all their source code....).

In a way, the idea behind “Linux Inside” or equivalent is the same as one of the key advantages of open source: that by collaborating and pooling resources, more can be achieved than by working separately. At the moment, the marketing around devices using Linux is fragmented, each manufacturer pushing a proprietary brand that reveals nothing about its underlying connection to Linux. By creating a strong umbrella brand alongside them, manufacturers would be helping the Linux ecosystem of which they form part – and hence helping themselves.

(Reference -

Friday, April 29, 2011

UM hall damaged by fire

PETALING JAYA: Universiti Malaya's Balai Ungku Aziz caught fire yesterday, with an estimated 80 per cent of its roof destroyed. The fire was believed to have started on the roof of the dental faculty in the hall about 4.50pm and students had to be evacuated. Pantai Fire and Rescue Department chief Hamid Daud said they received a distress call at 4.54pm and arrived there within five minutes. “Three fire trucks with 19 personnel from the Pantai and Taman Desa fire stations took two hours to put out the fire," he said. The cause of the fire and losses are being investigated.

(Reference :

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sony's PlayStation Network Disaster: What Happens Next?

By Matt Peckham, PCWorld Apr 27, 2011 7:50 AM

It's been a full week since Sony's PlayStation Network went belly up. For five of those days, the outage appeared to be just what Sony said--an outage. Yesterday all that changed when Sony admitted the "external intruder(s)" that prompted them to take the PSN down on Wednesday, April 20th, had in fact grabbed reams of personal information, and possibly (though unconfirmed) financial data such as credit card info. With upwards of 75 million PSN users affected, some are calling it the largest breach of confidential user information in history. Where does Sony go from here?

Yahoo Sells Delicious To You Tube Founders

Yahoo's Delicious, which was reportedly slated to be shuttered, will live on thanks to YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who have agreed to purchased the site.

“We’re excited to work with this fantastic community and take Delicious to the next level,” said Hurley said in a statement. “We see a tremendous opportunity to simplify the way users save and share content they discover anywhere on the web.”

Yahoo has finally found a buyer for long suffering Delicious. YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen have acquired the company, says Yahoo, via a “new Internet company, AVOS.” We’re still gathering details, but here’s the official stuff:

Today YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen announced they have acquired the Delicious technology from Yahoo!. They plan to continue the service that users have come to know and love and make the site even easier and more fun to save, share and discover the web’s “tastiest” content.

Providing a smooth transition for users is important to both companies. There will be a transition period where users can elect to sign up for a new account. Users’ public and private bookmarks will be maintained through the transition period and transferred as they are today when it is complete.

As we have said, part of our product strategy involves shifting our investment with off-strategy products to put better focus on our core strengths and fund new innovation. We believe this is the right move for the service, our users and our shareholders and look forward to watching the Delicious technology develop.

(Reference :

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Asterisk powers

Asterisk is a complete PBX in software. It runs on Linux, BSD, Windows and OS X and provides all of the features you would expect from a PBX and more. Asterisk does voice over IP in four protocols, and can interoperate with almost all standards-based telephony equipment using relatively inexpensive hardware.

Asterisk provides Voicemail services with Directory, Call Conferencing, Interactive Voice Response, Call Queuing. It has support for three-way calling, caller ID services, ADSI, IAX, SIP, H.323 (as both client and gateway), MGCP (call manager only) and SCCP/Skinny. Check the Features section for a more complete list.

Asterisk needs no additional hardware for Voice-over-IP, although it does expect a non-standard driver that implements dummy hardware as a non-portable timing mechanism. A single (or multiple) VOIP provider(s) can be used for outgoing and/or incoming calls (outgoing and incoming calls can be handled through entirely different VOIP and/or telco providers).

For interconnection with digital and analog telephony equipment, Asterisk supports a number of hardware devices, most notably all of the hardware manufactured by Asterisk's sponsors, Digium. Digium has single and quad span T1 and E1 interfaces for interconnection to PRI lines and channel banks. In addition, single to quad port analog FXO and FXS cards are available and are po***r for small installations. Other vendors' cards can be used for BRI (ISDN2) or quad- and octo- port BRI based upon CAPI compatible cards or HFC chipset cards.

Lastly, standalone devices are available to do a wide range of tasks including providing fxo and fxs ports that simply plug into the LAN and register to Asterisk as an available device.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Design Standards Brief Manual for Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology is one of Australia’s original and leading educational institutions, producing some of Australia’s most employable graduates. As an innovative, global university of technology, with its heart in the city of Melbourne, RMIT has an international reputation for excellence in work-relevant education and high quality research, and engagement with the needs of industry and community.

With more than 70,000 students studying at RMIT campuses in Melbourne, in Vietnam, online, and at partner institutions throughout the world, the University is one of the largest in the country. It has built a worldwide reputation for excellence in professional and vocational education and research. A vibrant alumni community now stretches across more than 100 countries. RMIT is a member of the Australian Technology Network.

The Design Standards Brief –Version 6, August, 2009 – contains the minimum design standards for RMIT University. The Design Standards Brief is the guiding document for building works at the University. The document able to be access at url

(Reference :

Linux patent suit ruled against Google

A Texas jury has ruled against Google in a suit that alleged some of its use of open source Linux code amounted to patent infringement, something that could have big implications for other companies using Linux technology and other open source systems. In the verdict, delivered last week, the jury decided that Google should pay US$5 million for the infringement.

The suit was filed in June 2009 by a firm called Bedrock Computer Technologies, which also named the likes of Yahoo, MySpace, Amazon, PayPal, and AOL as defendants in the suit. Bedrock, as was reported when the suit was filed, was founded by a prominent patent reform advocate (the corporation has been accused of being a patent troll) and filed suit against the defendants in question for violation of Patent 5,893,120, detailing "methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data".

Since it's the Linux kernel itself, the core of the open source operating system, this could have implications well beyond Google--and even beyond the other defendants in the case, for whom court decisions have not yet been determined.

"Google can easily afford US$5 million if it has to, but this patent infringement case has major implications for the IT industry in general and for Linux in particular," patent and IP activist Florian Mueller wrote on his blog. "The plaintiff identified a portion of the Linux kernel as part of the 'Accused Instrumentalities.' Many companies using Linux have already been required by the patent holder to pay royalties, and many more will now, based on this jury verdict, elect to pay."

A potentially contested turf: the Android mobile operating system, which is Linux-based and continues to grow fast, evolving into many different mutations of a mobile (and now tablet) software architecture.

Mueller points out that not only did Google attempt to declare the patent invalid, but so did Linux software maker Red Hat, which counts several of its clients among the defendants.

"Google will continue to defend against attacks like this one on the open source community," a spokesperson for the company said. "The recent explosion in patent litigation is turning the world's information highway into a toll road, forcing companies to spend millions and millions of dollars defending old, questionable patent claims, and wasting resources that would be much better spent investing in new technologies for users and creating jobs."

(Reference :

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Skype unleashes VoIP calls over 3G for Android

The latest version of Skype for Android includes some security updates that make it more secure, however the "meat and potatoes" of the new version allows for greater VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) call functionality over a 3G connection should the contingency arise to WiFi in the U.S., no matter the network. Still no word on when Skype will let users make video-to-video calls.

However until at the time, Android users can now join in with other mobile devices and platforms in making Skype to Skype VoIP calls over 3G and eating up data usage on their mobile plans during conserving those precious calling minutes for

(Reference :

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Momentum Around Asterisk Intensified by Digium in 2010

Strong growth in the use of Asterisk and substantial technical advances in the product has marked a successful end of the year for Digium, Inc, Diamond Sponsor of ITEXPO (News - Alert) East. Apart from releasing a major upgrade; the use of Asterisk has expanded to 170 countries. Asterisk is open source telephony software created by Digium. The company is also the primary sponsor of this software.

A new open source project, Asterisk (News - Alert) SCF has also been announced by the company in late October. Over the past year, contributions from the open source community have matched Digium’s investment in Asterisk. Asterisk has received code from over 9,800 people to date. This includes more than 200 people who worked on Asterisk 1.8 which was released in October. The increase in momentum is evident from the over two million downloads of the software in 2010. Users of Asterisk include developers, resellers, integrators and systems administrators.

An ordinary computer is converted into a communication server with Asterisk. IP PBX (News - Alert) systems, VoIP gateways, conference servers and other communication applications can be powered with this communication server. Asterisk is being used to create standards-based, feature-rich communications systems in more than 170 countries by small businesses, large enterprises, call centers, carriers and governments.

The communication systems are being created at a fraction of the cost of proprietary systems. According to Digium (News - Alert), billions of minutes of phone calls around the world are being handled by Asterisk running over one million servers.

In a press release, Bryan Johns, community director of Digium, said, “Asterisk has made an indelible impression on the voice communications industry in the 11 years since it was released. Its appeal keeps growing as businesses look for the value, flexibility, standards compliance and the technical superiority that result from the contributions of thousands of talented and visionary software developers.”

Johns added that the company is proud to sponsor Asterisk. The company is also proud of the Asterisk community, which currently has 73,000 registered members. The company has released Asterisk 1.8 this fall as it continues its focus on Asterisk development. A new open source project in Asterisk SCF has also been created by Digium, added Johns.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Enterprise WAN Router Buyer's Guide by Drew Robb

The router market is an interesting space. It is split into two broad categories: enterprise Wide Area Network (WAN) routers and branch routers. This article focuses on the former category. Enterprise WAN routers are used to communicate to and from head office to branches. Sitting in the main data center, WAN routers are part of the network backbone, dealing with transaction and processing oriented traffic. As such, they need high bandwidth capacity. "Enterprise WAN routers sit at the hub, while the branch offices are like the connecting spokes," said Dell'Oro Group routers analyst, Shin Umeda.

While generally separate from the switches that connect user devices to the network, some modern switches have also taken on some routing functions. However, they remain largely separate. Switches connect users to the Local Area Network (LAN) while routers transmit data across the WAN.

Primary features

What are the main features that users should be looking for in an enterprise WAN router? Umeda said that the most important point is to match user bandwidth requirements to the device. Some WAN routers, after all, can be relatively small with a few interfaces. The simplest come with two connections - one to the WAN and one to the LAN. This might be good enough for a small organization, but limits performance and lacks flexibility. Larger routers, of course, have far more ports and can deal with a wider range of services that are attempting to connect to the WAN? Such services might include a low-speed electrical circuit like a T1 line, a Fiber Optics circuit connecting to a carrier network, or Ethernet up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE).

"Pay attention to the type of connectivity you require during the selection process," said Umeda. "Most decent routers are highly configurable based on the type of ports you need." Connecting to the LAN side, though, is relatively straightforward. That typically requires Ethernet ports in the range of 100 Mb or 1 Gb.

Voice only, data only or both is a question that has to be answered. The days of data only networks appear to be dwindling, but not everyone has jumped onto the Voice over IP (VoIP) bandwagon. It would be wise to check with the CIO to determine if VoIP is on the horizon. If so, plan ahead. It doesn't make any sense to buy a fresh set of data only networking products only to have to replace them a year later when the VoIP rollout commences.

Umeda calls attention to another factor in router selection: what kind of connection you have to the branch, which determines what features are needed in the WAN router. If many branches are present with slow connections, for instance, that influences the amount of bandwidth and type of WAN router that should be purchased. Take the case of an ATM-type financial transaction. This will probably need a high level of security via VPN capabilities. Not all WAN routers include such functionality. Further, if the WAN router connects to the public Internet, some kind of firewall and security features are a wise investment. Many routers fold these features into their routers for a little extra money.

As a rule of thumb, Umeda said to start with bandwidth. How much capacity do you need and how much can a specific router support? This determines how much you should pay. Huge expensive routers might give a tremendous amount of bandwidth but why buy them if you will never take advantage of it. Correct sizing, then, is key. Another decision is whether to opt for a single-vendor or multi-vendor set up.

"Some services work better when you utilize a single vendor at both ends, while with others there is no difference at all," said Omeda.

Finally, the Dell'Oro analyst mentions management. Some organizations require a high level of centralized management of devices, while others have a more distributed infrastructure. The kind of IT organization in place can determine whether a more expensive WAN router is needed at head office (replete with state-of-the-art management functions) or if a less expensive router will suffice.

Vendor Battle

While Cisco remains the major force in enterprise WAN routers, its dominance is less than in other areas. Cisco leads the field with a 60 percent share in 2010 followed by Juniper Networks with 22 percent, Chinese company Huawei with12 percent and Brocade with 4 percent according to Dell'Oro. While Huawei isn't that well known in North America, that will change over time. But for now, it mainly sells in China and even then primarily to service providers.

"We haven't seen much shift in market share numbers over the past three years," said Umeda.

However, the total size of the market has shrunk. It was $700 million each year from 2006 to 2008 and crashed to $400 million in 2009. This year it rebounded a little to half a billion. But Umeda doesn't expect it to top its 2008 total any time soon.

(Reference :

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Schools Begin Moving Unified Communications to the Cloud by David Nagel

Public K-12 school districts have begun shifting their unified communications solutions over to the cloud. In fact, according to new research released this week, a quarter of them either have done so already or are in the process of doing so.

The research is the latest installment in the annual CDW-G Unified Communications Tracking Poll. For the 2011 report, O'Keeffe & Co. surveyed 900 IT professionals across sectors, including higher education and K-12. All participants were involved in unified communications for their organizations at the decision-making level.

Cross-Sector Findings
The survey found that, on the whole, UC adoption has doubled since the previous year's poll. A full 16 percent of all organizations have "fully implemented" unified communications, up from 8 percent in 2010 and 6 percent in 2009 (with a margin of error of ±3.2 percent). The remainder are in the process of implementing UC (18 percent), planning a UC implementation (33 percent), or assessing a possible UC implementation (33 percent).

Among the specific technologies that had been deployed at the time of the survey were:

  • VIdeoconferencing (69 percent);
  • IP telephony (66 percent);
  • Mass notifications (63 percent);
  • Unified messaging (62 percent); and
  • Presence (47 percent).

All were up from previous years except presence and mass notification, which were statistically flat (within the poll's 3.2-point margin of error) between 2010 and 2011.

The report also showed that 76 percent of those organizations that have completed their UC implementations have experienced a return on investment that "met or exceeded" their expectations, up 5 percent from the 2010 report.

"Across industries, organizations are embracing 'anytime, anyplace' access to information to boost productivity. They also continue to look for opportunities to use budget dollars more effectively," said Christine Holloway, vice president of converged infrastructure solutions at CDW, in a statement released to coincide with the report. "Unified communications delivers on both of those objectives."

Findings for K-12 Education
In K-12 public education specifically, 19 percent of respondents indicated their organizations had fully implemented unified communications. Owing to the large margin of error for sector-specific findings in the report (8 points), that's statistically flat from last year's 13 percent figure. The percentage of campuses in the process of implementing UC (26 percent) was also statistically flat from 2010's figure of 18 percent. Those districts that reported they were planning for an implementation (21 percent) was down significantly from the previous year (30 percent in 2010). The percentage of districts reporting they were still just assessing the benefits of unified communications, 34 percent, was statistically flat from last year.

Among K-12 public education institutions, 4 percent reported they've have deployed cloud-based UC solutions. Another 21 percent said they're in the process of deploying a cloud-based solution, and 46 percent reported they are at least evaluating a cloud-based UC solution.

According to the report, the top UC features cited by respondents in the K-12 public education sector included:

  • Access to work e-mail and voicemail via smart phone;
  • The ability to send mass notifications via phone and e-mail; and
  • The ability to receive voicemail and e-mail.

The top benefits cited by K-12 participants included:

  • Increased productivity;
  • Reduction of operating costs; and
  • Reliable communications.

The 2011 Unified Communications Tracking Poll was conducted in February 2011. Forty-three percent of respondents were top IT leaders, including CIOs and directors; 38 percent were IT supervisors, specialists, or engineers; 11 percent were telecom supervisors, specialists, or engineers; and 8 percent were telecom directors or managers.

In higher education, 44 percent came from institutions with fewer than 2,500 students; 27 percent represented institutions with 2,500 to 9,999 students; and 29 percent came from school districts with 10,000 or more students.

The full report is publicly available now. Further details can be found here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How the University of ADELAIDE manage their ICT - something to learn from them

ICT Principles
These ICT governance principles were agreed at a joint meeting of the University Information and Communications Technology Committee, the University Information and Communications Technology Architecture Committee, and the University Information and Communications Technology Investment Committee held on 16 June 2009. The principles constitute a reference model by which new ICT initiatives can be assessed for their alignment with the University's ICT ethos. Principles are a tool to help make more informed decisions - they are meant to guide rather than mandate.There is a set of over-arching ICT guiding principles that provide guidance on the key motivators that influence IT decision making together with more detailed sets of IT architecture and investment principles.

ICT Guiding Principles

The strategic direction of, and the decisions made by, the University Information and Communications Technology Committee on behalf of The University of Adelaide will be guided by the following principles. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) at the University of Adelaide will;

G1. Enable the University's core business - excellence in research and teaching. G2. Deliver a rich, engaged student and staff ICT experience. G3. Promote operational efficiency. G4. Ensure systems are robust and agile. G5. Ensure information and systems are secure. G6. Manage ICT as an investment.

ICT Investment Principles

The Investment Principles are necessarily aligned with the guiding principles but provide more guidance on investment.

I1. ICT investments must positively contribute to the achievement of the University's vision and goals as outlined in the Strategic Plan. I2. When considering potential ICT investments, the full life cycle costs and implications including licencing, infrastructure, skills and resources will be considered. I3. ICT investments will be assessed on the basis of the return on investment they offer. It is recognised that the potential returns are not just financial, and in some cases qualitative assessment of non-financial benefits will be required. I4. Individual ICT investments must demonstrate alignment with the overall University ICT strategy. I5. The potential business risks associated with ICT investments must be assessed and appropriate mitigation strategies identified prior to investment approval.

ICT Architecture Principles

The Architectural Principles are necessarily aligned with the guiding principles but are more focussed/detailed on Business, Application, Data and Technology architectures.
Business Architecture Principles

B1. The Enterprise Architecture is based on a design of services which mirror real-world activities which comprise the University business processes. B2. A partnership will be cultivated between the various Faculties and business units and ITS, in order to work together towards the attainment of the University's strategic goals. B3. IT investments will be aligned with the strategic goals through a planning and architecture process to implement appropriate enterprise solutions. Hence the architecture, (i.e., the business, information, application, and technology models and principles) will guide the design, implementation, and management of technology assets based on business needs. B4. Business processes and associated IT solutions will be sufficiently modularised and flexible, allowing greater agility and rapid implementation of changes to business rules and processes to facilitate emerging opportunities and evolving needs. B5. Business processes, data and supporting applications will have documented owners, who will be responsible for defining the associated business requirements (e.g., access, validation, maintenance, etc.)

Data Architecture Principles

D1. Information is a corporate asset which should be captured, stored and managed in a way that will allow appropriate levels of sharing across the enterprise. All primary data will be captured once only at the point of creation, and stored and managed to enable appropriate levels of sharing and access. D2. Timely, accurate and complete decision support information will be made available to authorised users through standard tools. D3. Applications will access data through defined interfaces (i.e., through data service brokers rather than directly at the data storage interface) using standard data base and file management facilities.

Application Architecture Principles

A1. When deciding on architectures to implement, the preference will be to leverage and reuse existing solutions, second to purchase new package solutions, and thirdly to build custom solutions. A2. Implementation of applications used across the enterprise is preferred over the implementation of duplicate or similar applications for particular groups. A3. Future applications will be delivered via the Intranet and Internet as web based applications, preferably deployed through key Portals. A4. Application programs, whether purchased or developed internally, will be architected to separate business rules from application logic and provide modular, reusable functionality. A5. Implementation of applications will be managed through defined roadmaps which cover the full application lifecycle.

Technology Architecture Principles T1. The University will be agile, proactive and innovative in its use of technology to provide services T2. Technological diversity is controlled based on a defined set of standards and policies to ensure that IT services are efficient, sustainable, robust and secure.